Dr. Tara Schafer and Jeff Mastromonico with app.
Dr. Tara Schafer and Jeff Mastromonico with app. Photo by Phil Jones.

Kid Stuff

Meet Pearl, a gal who really sinks her teeth into oral health.

Well, her tooth, that is.

Actually, Pearl is a tooth—an animated character who cheerfully and whimsically helps children learn about the importance of good oral hygiene.

Pearl is the star of an app unveiled in 2017 by Augusta University, available on iPhone and Android devices, that makes dental care “fun, not boring,” according to Jeff Mastromonico, director of the AU Department of Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovation.

The information, he says, is as colorful and eye-catching as anything a kid would watch on a network cartoon.

“We wanted to teach kids how to brush and floss in the most engaging way possible,” says Mastromonico. “We even incorporated games that make the app exciting and interactive.” One game, for instance, offers points for helping Pearl gobble up as many nutritious snacks as possible.

“It’s exciting to explore the potential of technology to help our children be as healthy as possible,” says Dr. Tara Schafer, interim chairperson of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, who worked with Mastromonico’s team to develop the app. “It’s never too early to start teaching them about good oral hygiene and helping them develop habits that will enhance their health throughout their whole lives.”

Regular brushing, for instance, is the most important deterrent to cavities, and flossing cleans the 35 percent of the tooth surface that a toothbrush can’t reach. “Oral hygiene has never been more important,” Schafer says, “because people are living longer than ever, and we want kids to keep teeth throughout their whole lives.”

She is gratified that the app helps educate parents as well and serves as a timely reminder about healthy daily habits. Check out this and other dental apps recently unveiled by AU, including:

• Dental Panoramic Radiology, an interactive application designed to teach panoramic anatomy

• Dental Pro Consult, a quick and easy way to review clinical procedures

• SmarTooth, which calculates tooth proportions

To purchase the apps, visit www.jaguware.com

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