Today I speak with dentist and nutritionist Dr. Mitali Hariawala about Quip’s electric toothbrush and the holistic dentistry experience they offer. We discuss how good oral care practices can lead to a healthy mouth. We also discuss certain signs in the mouth that could indicate disease in the gut.
Dr. R’s Fast Facts Summary
Tips for brushing teeth properly:
Brush at a 45-degree angle so that you can sweep debris out of the gum line and up out of your teeth
Brush 2 minutes total (many people brush for only 1 minute)
Brushing too hard or too long can lead to recession of the gums as well as abrasion of the tooth enamel
Soft bristles clean just as effectively as medium or hard and they protect you from damaging your gums and over-brushing
Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
80% – 90% of people fail to replace their toothbrush.
40% of people don’t visit the dentist even once per year
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. Today, I am here with Mitali Hariawala. And we are going to be talking about oral health and also the Quip toothbrush, which is, I think, doing some very befitting things in the realm of oral health, one of which, amongst others, is trying to make a high-quality electric toothbrush more affordable. And as you know, I’m a big advocate of cost effectiveness. So yeah, let’s jump in. Welcome to the show!
Dr. Mitali Hariawala: Great! Thank you, Dr. Ruscio. I’m excited to be here today. Hi, everyone. My name is Dr. Mitali Hariawala. I am a general dentist with a master’s in nutrition. And I am on the dental team at Quip.
So for those of you who haven’t heard about Quip, Quip is a modern, online oral care service that designs beautifully simple electric toothbrushes and delivers affordable brush heads and fluoride toothpaste every three months to make a healthy brushing routine simpler and more enjoyable.
And as a dentist, I know that the simple secret to great oral health is good technique, a consistent routine, and regular upkeep. So Quip was designed to guide exactly these preventative habits by using good design and no gimmicks.
DrMR: Now, when you talk about technique, there’s one aspect that I was actually previously unaware of until I read through the informational booklet that came with my Quip toothbrush which was to brush at a 45 degree angle. And I was totally unaware of that. I always had been brushing at a 90 degree angle. Can you expand on that a little bit?
DrMH: Yeah, sure. So there are a lot of schools of thought around brushing technique. But this one is to angle it at 45 degrees so that you’re able to sweep debris out of the gum line and up out of your teeth.
DrMR: Okay. Okay. And with the guiding pulses, that’s another thing that I found helpful. And again, I’m not sure if I represent the majority of people or if I just, perhaps being a bit type A, I’m an overachiever with my brushing. And I tend to brush for too long. But the guiding pulses were helpful. And I believe the main reason for that—and correct me if I’m wrong—is to prevent over brushing. Is that the main utility?
DrMH: Actually, so there is a 2-minute timer. And that’s to ensure that you brush for the full 2 minutes because, to effectively clean each tooth of the mouth, it takes about 2 minutes. In general, the average brushing time is actually 1 minute. So we’re trying to make sure that everyone brushes long enough.
And the guiding pulses themselves are to ensure an even clean. So basically, if you can picture your mouth in four quadrants (the top right, the top left, bottom right, and bottom left), you’re supposed to spend around 30 seconds in each part.
DrMR: Gotcha. Okay. So then I was clearly over brushing, which would be fitting, especially because I’m not only type A, but I’m also a bit OCD when it comes to neatness. So I guess for me, I’m the rarity where it was actually causing me to brush my teeth for a lesser amount of time. But I think for me that was probably a good thing, as I’ve heard.
And again, correct me if I’m wrong on this because this is clearly not my area of expertise. But if you are over brushing, that can potentially contribute to receding gum.
DrMH: Yeah, that’s right. If you’re over brushing, brushing too hard, brushing too long, it can lead to recession of the gums as well as abrasion of the tooth enamel.
DrMR: And I noticed that Quip has a softer bristle. Is that something that seems to be more beneficial? Is there a debate in the community between hard bristles, soft bristles? Is soft bristle better for some reason?
DrMH: I’m a firm believer in using soft bristles. They clean just as effectively but ensure safety around brushing.
DrMR: Gotcha. Okay. Okay. And the safety would be preventing the gum line erosion from over brushing and over pressure?
DrMH: Yes, exactly.
DrMR: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay, and we were talking off air about some of the problems that you were trying to solve with Quip. And I think we’ve hit those, which are consistency, timing, safety. Are there any other problems that Quip is trying to solve with the toothbrush and the whole Quip movement that we haven’t touched on yet?
DrMH: Yeah, so Quip is interesting because we’re actually the first subscription-based electric toothbrush to receive the ADA Seal of Acceptance. So we are a subscription model which sets us apart. And what that helps for is just changing out and replacing brush heads on time.
So studies show that about 80 to 90% of the population don’t actually replace brush heads every three months which is recommended by the dentist. And they’re waiting more around nine months to replace.
So with the subscription plan, patients are more likely to stay compliant by automatically receiving the $5 brush head in the mail to their door and actually replace on time.
We’ve discussed previously that your mouth is the first section of your gut. So in order to have a healthy gut, you must have a healthy mouth. This is why I like Quip’s electric toothbrush which is ADA approved. That’s the American Dental Association.
Quip provides an effective 2-minute clean with vibrations and guiding pulses that alert you when you switch sides. The time-guiding pulses combined with the soft bristles help prevent over brushing which is a serious concern and can contribute to receding gums.
I like the Quip electric toothbrush, amongst other reasons because it only costs $25 which is much cheaper than most electric toothbrushes.
DrMR: And that’s a nice aspect also, which is the $5, because some of the electric toothbrush heads are quite expensive. And especially if you go and you buy a four-pack, I think some of the competitor four-packs are over $100. And again, I could be wrong there.
But I remember looking into some of this when I’ve used different electric toothbrushes and saying, “Whoo!” Yeah, I can see why someone would put off. And in fact, I myself had put off buying it because I would say to myself, “I just don’t feel like spending $100 right now on a toothbrush head.”
So the fact that you’re able to deliver a replacement for only $5, it’s kind of a no brainer. And does that $5 include shipping? Or is there shipping on top of that?
DrMH: Yeah, so the $5 actually covers the brush head, the triple A battery that the toothbrush runs on, as well as the cost of shipping. So very affordable.
DrMR: Okay, so very affordable. And yeah, I like that. You’re automating the process so people don’t have to worry about when to replace their brush head. And you’re also making the financial barrier so low that I would see it being very difficult for someone to be able to make a case against not enrolling in the subscription because of $5 every three months.
DrMH: Yeah, and then the other problem that we’re trying to solve for is that about 40% of the population don’t actually visit the dentist each year, even when they have insurance, let alone visiting twice a year, at least every six months.
So we actually have a system through our online platform where we can remind patients when it’s time for their next visits and reward them by giving them their next brush head for free if they actually visit on time.
DrMR: Oh, that’s cool! I didn’t know that. Nice! Okay. So I think that gives people a nice rundown of some of the things that I liked—and I like—about the Quip toothbrush.
I know you wanted to touch on the gut-mouth connection. So please, anything there that you wanted to touch on, I’m curious to hear.
DrMH: Yeah, so obviously, the mouth, or the oral cavity, is the beginning of the entire digestive system. So one affects the other. But I think it’d be interesting to just discuss some of the oral signs that are present with issues or imbalances that can occur with gut health.
So one that is interesting is, a red or a swollen tongue can actually indicate a deficiency in folic acids or other B vitamins. So it’s interesting as a dentist or an oral care provider because I’m able to see a lot of what is going on with my patients outside of their oral cavity because there are so many oral signs and manifestations.
Another is red patches on the gums and inside the cheeks. They can be actually pretty painful lesions. And that’s a sign specifically of vitamin B12 deficiency. We also see—
DrMR: I’m sorry. These patches, are they kind of like a semi-circular sore spot? Is that how you would describe them?
DrMH: Yeah, exactly.
DrMR: Okay, gotcha.
DrMH: Yeah, and then we see oral Candida or yeast infections. And that can be indicative of a number of things, but obviously an immune imbalance. But it can also be a sign of zinc deficiency.
DrMR: Interesting, okay. Alright. Any others?
DrMH: Yeah, mouth ulcers can also be a sign of digestive problems as well as white puss-filled lesions like ones that are seen with Crohn’s disease. And that’s occurring all the way in your colon. Yet, we’re seeing indications in the oral cavity.
DrMR: And would you say most dentists are doing a fairly decent job, if they see a lesion like this, relaying it to the patient to say, “This may suggest X, Y, Z; have you been seen by your primary care lately”? Or prompting some further probe into the issue?
DrMH: Yeah, definitely. It’s part of every exam as well as an oral cancer screening.
DrMR: Great. Great. Okay. Well, is there anything else as we transition to a close that you wanted to mention about Quip or the gut-mouth connection or anything else?
DrMH: I think just the only other part is that we’re more than just a product company. We really want to educate our patients. So we try to do that through fun and creative ways. We have a monthly newsletter, a blog on our platform, and obviously dentists on the team to help answer questions.
And we have an online platform which is more relevant to the dentists in the audience. But it’s a way to actually connect with patients. As I mentioned before, we have the reminders for visits and rewards for coming on time. But we’re actually building a dental professional network which is tens of thousands of professionals. And yeah, there’s more in store there. So keep your eyes peeled.
DrMR: Awesome! I really like what you guys are doing. And thanks for taking the time to share some of this with us. And guys, if you’re looking for a toothbrush or if you’re looking to transition to a toothbrush that may not knock you in the wallet so much every time you have to replace the head, then check out Quip. And thank you again, Mitali.
I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!
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