I-Corps: Handheld electric toothbrush with built-in vacuum and a collection reservoir to reduce aspiration risk

Project: Research project

Project Details


The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a powered toothbrush with built-in suction to decrease aspiration risk during brushing. Pediatric, geriatric, and NPO (nothing by mouth) patients are at high risk for aspiration during toothbrushing, which may cause lung infections. Additionally, it has been recognized that a suction device potentially may minimize the spread of oral pathogens. Current products that aim to reduce aspiration risk by suction are bulky, either brush or vacuum (but not both simultaneously) and have exterior collection bag or use vacuum suction lines, which limit the use. An all-in-one portable device may be suitable for broader use.This I-Corps project is based on the development of a device for use in dental cleaning that is a handheld electric toothbrush with built-in vacuum and a collection reservoir. Numerous studies have established the benefit of electric toothbrushing, and also have shown that concomitant aspirates cause lung infections. Using a vacuum while brushing has not been addressed outside of the dental clinic/in-patient services. The proposed design uses a disposable head with a hole to allow evacuation of fluids from the oral cavity. An in-built pump and waste compartment differentiate enable simultaneous brush head cleaning and suction or in-device fluid collection. This proposed device provides a multi-purpose power toothbrush incorporating an integrated high-vacuum functionality into a (battery) powered toothbrush, providing for effective removal of saliva, debris, and fluids during brushing. The removal of these potentially harmful and infectious materials aids in the prevention of aspiration-related respiratory disease and potentially may reduce disease transmittal through aerosols.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date1/1/216/30/23


  • National Science Foundation: $50,000.00


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