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Solar powered toothbrushes require no toothpaste

By Damir Beciri
2 Comments20 August 2010

solar-powered-toothbrushToothpaste could become a thing of the past since a team of scientists develops a solar-powered toothbrush which doesn’t require toothpaste. University of Saskatchewan dentistry professor emeritus Dr. Kunio Komiyama and his colleague, Dr. Gerry Uswak, are recruiting 120 teens willing to brush with the metallic invention and sit in a dentist’s chair for a few extra inspections.

The manufacturer, Shiken company from Japan, is paying the researchers to investigate whether the brush, which causes a chemical reaction in the mouth, does a better job of eliminating plaque and bacteria compared to a conventional toothbrush.

“I think it’s going to be very effective,” said Komiyama, who has been cleansing his pearly whites with versions of the solar-powered brush for 15 years.

His work on the semiconductor brush has been going on since 1992. The first brush they designed contained a titanium dioxide rod in the neck of the brush, just below the nylon bristles. When light shines on the wet rod, electrons are released into the mouth. Those electrons react with acid in the mouth, which helps break down the plaque that builds up on teeth.

A newer model is called the Soladey-J3X and, according to its developers, it packs twice the chemical punch compared to the original. At the base of the brush is a solar panel, which transmits electrons to the top of the tooth brush through a lead wire. It won’t work in the dark, since the brush needs about as much light as a solar-powered calculator would to operate.

In the lab, Komiyama tested the newer brush on cultures of two bacteria that are major culprits in periodontal disease. You see complete destruction of bacterial cells,” he said, pointing to magnified images of cells on a poster outside his office.

In the trial (which Komiyama hopes will be done in six months) two groups of teens will brush for four weeks with the solar-powered brush, four weeks with their regular toothbrush and four weeks with a placebo brush – just not in the same order. The subjects will visit the dental clinic four times in between different brushes, where dentists will measure the accumulation of plaque, and the degree of bleeding and inflammation on and around six pre-selected teeth.

Suppliers are already selling the old and new Soladey models in Europe, Japan and the U.S. There are a few things to be worked out as how much of the lead could chip away, since it is toxic or the freshness of the mint flavor toothpaste has to offer. On the other hand, a tube of toothpaste can kill a kid if they consume it and there are mouth washes that could help with bad breath issues.

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2 Comments — Leave your response!

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    Gene @ Diy Solar Panels

    I would love this. I drive an hour to work and am always looking for ways to free up a little personal time.

  • Avatar

    Outstanding Innovation. Hearty congratulations. But Toothpaste manufacturers won’t allow this product to pervade as Toothpaste and Tooth brush business is in billions of dollars if not Trillions of Dollars.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India

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