I was asked by a dental Magazine to write an article about the App, in the format of answering their questions. This is it:-
What is Teeth4life?
Teeth4life is an eHealth product. It's a free resource available now to download on the App Store and Google Play. It protects us with the data stored on our dental software, and promotes our services with a customised profile. It has a scoring system to monitor oral hygiene and has a notification centre which ideally, following your advice, supports them in creating and maintaining good oral health. It encourages the user to take ownership of their health through gamification. The default advice should recommend a monthly reminder for oral cancer and get in the general habit of self-monitoring their health. Never have we been more aware of the poor outcomes if our general health is poor. As general health is directly linked to oral health, why not also use this opportunity to educate them on preventing the world's most common disease?
You can customise the App for free via the supporting website care4teeth.co.uk. Please read the section on marketing and the blogs on support. The public can select your details from the MY DENTIST section and personalise it for themselves and their family in the MY TEETH section.
Please give us your background, how did you come to creating this app?
I was lucky as I moved to Anglesey when I was six and went to a comprehensive school. None of my 26 cousins did, and I was the first to take A levels, partly because I was too young to leave. I'm the only one to go to university where I could have studied science, which was my strength, but instead studied dentistry, as I remember my Dad stating, “But dentistry is a profession” and back then, I wanted a job. I liked the idea of being my own boss, helping people, and never having to be on call or open a book after qualifying, unlike doctors. It was a long time ago!
As a profession, we have ethical and moral obligations and need to warrant the public's trust at large. I am concerned that, like many professions are we are being hijacked by big business. The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. Until I sold my practice to a corporate, the patient was the customer. In effect, I became the customer and "my patients" become a commodity for the accountants that run these businesses. Just as the government can complain about Vodaphone and Amazon's tax dodges, we struggle with large dental corporates and AI-driven orthodontic groups who take the income but no responsibility for the outcome. Sadly, after nearly forty years as a GDP I don't trust the government to promote dental prevention. When I have approached the NHS with the App, they have asked me how it will generate money for the NHS. The bureaucracy is so big it has lost its founding principles of "universal, equitable, comprehensive, high quality, free at the point of delivery, centrally funded". As a profession, we are obliged to do it ourselves.
I sold my practice around the time of my Dad's declining health which resulted in his care for over a year in a dementia ward, where oral hygiene was difficult. Many of my patients were carers, and I asked them about their experience and subsequently made a website care4teeth.org to support them with a variety of resources, including video links I thought useful on YouTube.
Technology changes, and while the now redundant iPod carried 10,000 songs in your pocket, any smartphone can have you in your patient's pocket, well, at least your advice, and while they are in the bathroom cleaning their teeth and gums.
I approached a few dental App companies, but they used basic retail templates. Many large companies have Apps, but in the main as a vehicle to sell only their products. There wasn’t an impartial one that covered most aspects of preventive dentistry and so eventually, I thought I'd make my own. It has taken a while as the first App company I was going to have joint venture with wanted to charge the public, and would be a hurdle for the public I was trying to engage.
I eventually designed the App that as a dentist I would find useful, and eventually used a small company to produce it, while I gradually taught myself to make videos, via YouTube.
Who is the app for (eg what dental practice would benefit from this?
The App is for two main groups. It's a template for individual dentists and hygienists who can register and learn how to promote and protect themselves as outlined here care4teeth.co.uk .
It is also for the public, our patients, and the 50% of adults who rarely see us. They may contact a dentist registered on the App after downloading and using the App themselves. It can easily be shared using social media links on the user's phone.
The embedded short video animations are for the public as few of us to read pamphlets anymore. I am anticipating some criticism especially in the TREATMENT Section. I have only ever regarded myself as a good GDP, not an animator, and if there is constructive, consistent feedback I will update the videos. The App will then improve in each iteration.
If you don't like the audio or content, I advise on how to change the video content yourself on the supporting teeth4life YouTube Channel, and email your patients directly. Lots of my original videos are there, but the recent feedback was animations with audio work better. Please subscribe to the YouTube channel, as then more members of the public will find the App.
An email template in your practice software similar to this should help you sleep better of a night.
Following your appointment today. These are your scores.
Download our free teeth4life dental App available on the App Store and Google Play.
Press SQUEEZE ME on the tube of toothpaste on the front page to see how the App works for you. Personalise the App in the My Teeth section, add your scores and risk factors, then view your scorecard. Set appropriate reminders to help improve habits.
Select me from the MY Dentist section, and check out the molar apicectomy procedure I recommended for your lower left second molar tooth in my profile section.
This animation explains how oral health is directly linked to general health. Keeping your scores in the green may well help maintain your immunity, as well as a healthy smile.
Please look at this animation video on Oral Cancer as you need to monitor yourself for this largely preventable, and deadly disease. There is a shorter self monitoring clinical video in the App.
Set a monthly reminder in the My Teeth, scorecard section.
Please share the App link with family and friends from the social media icons on the front page. Help save a life SHARE teeth4life.
Your Best Dentist in the world
How many practices are using it at the moment?
There are around 350 dentists and hygienists registered on the App in the UK, and it has been downloaded a few thousand times worldwide. The current iteration on IOS version 1.4 has a global location finder, but there have been significant changes in the IOS software, and another update is required, so it is best as a user to delete the old software and reinstall as often is required for all Apps. A year ago, I was in India during their lockdown. I realised quite a few of the public there didn't see a dentist, but they do have smartphones. And most have teeth, so it wouldn’t cost anymore for dentists to have the App there, or anywhere else with a signal.
What is the cost to dental practices?
There is no charge for the individual dentist, hygienist, or dental therapist, and it will always be available for free in its current form. I’m well aware that not all dentists can afford the Latest Porche as our patients think, it has to be free for it to be shared. In the long term, it would need to generate some income to maintain and improve what has only recently moved on from a minimal viable product to a functioning eHealth App. In the future, there could be a charge to customise the front page, and that would be more appropriate to practices, but it could apply to individuals. While I could populate it with adverts like Spotify, I think the public would find it irritating. It could be that there was a shopping basket of preferred products advised by the dentist, and this could generate some income. Or further chargeable customisation options, or chargeable global notifications. There was no charge as an MVP, as I was still working and charging was too time consuming. Most dentists were happy to pay £5 a month when I demonstrated it at the dental showcase, but one dentist offered £600-700 a month to be first on the location finder. So I probably ought to investigate this. I was also funding it with my NHS pension, but I have now retired, so it will soon need to be self-funding in the future. It’s interesting that Wikipedia, and TedTalks both of which I’ve used for references, are now asking for donations.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Bored with NetFlix try DenFlix? I have recently registered the domain denflix.co.uk. It could help all dentists as a single go-to resource if we all collaborated and left our egos outside the Zoom door. I can't be the only retired dentist who enjoyed prevention, MID, and trying to help the public keep their teeth4life? This is somewhere we could all help one another.
I've started to set it up primarily for FDs as a mobile webpage. There is a Gold section for procedures without the limitations on time, materials, and equipment to help everyone improve their specific skill base for free.
Last year the CDO mentioned CVEK and silver diamine fluoride in the SOP. But now the discussion is 45% activity, which is still mainly the cure, not prevention.
Look up, denflix.co.uk on your phone. On the menu, press Procedures, Bronze, Child and view in landscape. Watch Dr Jeanette MacLean's excellent video on silver diamine fluoride. It makes you think. There is also the one on CVEK, which took a while to find.
Perhaps we all need to think and act a bit different?
Download teeth4life and press SQUEEZE ME on the front page. It explains the pre-covid tag.
Save a life, SHARE teeth4life.
Even better customise the App for yourself, via care4teeth.co.uk.