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P&G's smart toothbrush keeps tabs on tooth care

By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) - Procter & Gamble Co is bringing the dentist into the bathroom with the world's first smartphone-connected toothbrush, a device that gives personalized advice to help people improve their brushing.

The toothbrush, to be sold under P&G's Oral-B brand and which will be widely available from June, has a Bluetooth 4.0 link to a smartphone app that can be programmed with the help of a dentist, for example to pay more attention to any areas of the mouth being neglected, P&G said.

"The app provides real-time guidance," Michael Cohen-Dumani, global associate director for Oral-B, told Reuters.

"Dentists always tell us: 'People do a great job in the week before they come to visit us and in the week after they visit us. But nothing can hide the fact that when we look inside the mouth we can see all the areas they miss'."

The toothbrush will be unveiled at the phone industry's annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next week, joining an expanding range of devices connected to smartphones that measure everything from sleep patterns and calorie intake to distance walked and exercise taken.

Professionals had helped develop the app as a tool to manage their patients' behavior between visits, Cohen-Dumani said. The app displays brushing progress in real time, telling the user when to move to a different part of the mouth and warning if they are brushing too hard, he said.

"It will guide you in terms of how to brush, and you will be able to fully personalize the brushing routine for you," Cohen-Dumani said.

In tests, the app had extended average brushing times from less than a minute for a manual toothbrush to 2 minutes and 16 seconds, he said.

The device will be at top end the Oral-B electric toothbrush range, with a recommended retail price of 199 pounds ($330) in Britain and 219 euros in Europe.

French startup Kolibree has also developed a connected electric toothbrush that it plans to launch in the third quarter, according to its website.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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