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Smart Toothbrushes Can Turn Brushing Into Game For Kids

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Getting your kids into the toothbrushing habit at a young age is key for good lifelong dental hygiene.

But that can be challenging, and they may not be doing it right. CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reported Tuesday on some high-tech solutions to help keep those pearly whites.

Like most 3-year-olds, Reese would rather play than brush her teeth. But recently, she started combining the two.

She has been trying out a smart toothbrush – called Grush – that turns brushing into a game. When paired with a phone, it shows kids where to brush and how long, and offers rewards.

Parents even get a record of how well their child did.

But Grush is not the only game in town. A growing number of companies are now selling connected toothbrushes, including some aimed at adults -- that include timers, reminders, and even news feeds.

"It looks promising," said pediatric dentist Dorothy Pang.

Pang said while she has not seen enough evidence that the smart toothbrushes are more effective than the old-fashioned kind, connected brushes could get more kids excited about taking care of their teeth.

"They definitely generate interest and motivation on the part of the children to brush," Pang said.

But she warns technology alone will not do the trick.

"Children do not develop the adequate coordination to perform a good brushing until they are beyond 8 or even 9," Pang said.

Her advice is to let the kids practice on their own, and then brush their teeth for them twice a day.

"A circular movement, and be sure the bristles touch the gum," she said.

And she said doing it with a smart brush could be a smart idea.

Compared with a couple of dollars for an old-fashioned toothbrush, the connected versions are expensive. Grush costs about $60, and other smart brushes can run up to $200.

But if they help prevent cavities and gum disease, that could be a bargain.

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