mktg_IMG_0476_optDavid Hime, DDS, MS, of Austin Orthodontic Arts wanted to create a fun, interactive way to give young patients the incentive to keep up with their orthodontic health. As a result, he came up with the idea for Mighty Brace, an app and online program that brings the importance of orthodontic maintenance to life.

Orthodontic Products spoke to him about this innovative tool that orthodontists can add to their patient compliance tool kit.

Orthodontic Products: Can you describe the product for those who aren’t familiar with it?

David Hime: There are three components. The first is an app for orthodontic patients I designed and developed with Chaotic Moon Studies here in Austin, Tex. It’s called Mighty Brace Pro, and it is $1.99 in the app store. It’s an app that teaches kids how to take care of their braces. It has some animated videos, which they can then use the brush or floss and proxy brush to repeat what they just learned. It guides them through a process of about 10 minutes to run self-guided oral health care. It also aims to improve diet, instructing users on what foods are good and bad.

The second app is Mighty Brace Home. You can play a game and use those tools to score points. We sign new patients up and at the end of the game, if they score high enough, they can submit scores to our office and be entered into a drawing. We give away $100 a month. It has been very well received by other dentists and parents. Mighty Brace Home is a free companion app that runs on any iOS device.

Patients can [also use the app to] send us questions. If a kid has a wire poking or bracket that’s loose, they use the camera in their phone and send us a photo at the office. This creates an engaged patient who is working with us once they leave the office and go home.

The final component, and way we correspond with the patient, is the web portal—Mighty Brace Web, which is $50 a month for the doctor. As a communications portal, all the submissions for the game and other interactions go into this web portal. In all, there are three components to Mighty Brace: education, patient communication, and the web portal.

OP: Why was Mighty Brace developed?

Hime: I’ll be honest. Every orthodontist knows that the dirty little secret about orthodontics is that sometimes people get out of orthodontics with worse teeth than they went into it with. These are the kids that don’t brush their teeth. Every practice has to deal with this issue of poor braces care. It’s not the majority of our patients, but it is some.
Kids are magnetically drawn to touch screens, and I thought, this would be a great tool to teach what we teach in the office. The kids often think what we teach is boring. They don’t want to be lectured. I set out to develop something that would engage them the way they want to be engaged. It’s more like, “Hey, take a look at this.” It’s remarkable how they take to it. We use this to teach oral hygiene and braces care to our teenage and younger patients. We don’t use it for adults.

OP: What has patient reaction been?

Hime: Two reactions. One is the reaction of the patient: They’re so used to apps and touch screen devices that they’re pretty underwhelmed, and it doesn’t seem to strike them as anything different. Apps are just part of their normal vocabulary. The parents, however, are very excited because they can see this is a way that maybe their child can learn. Both the parent and kid can download the app. The parent can tell the child they need to send a picture to us, and the parent can receive the responses and all the communication the kid receives.

We probably have about 400 patients enrolled, and the number actually using it varies from month to month. It went live in April 2013. Between the two apps, we’ve had about 10,000 downloads worldwide, and it’s been downloaded in just over 100 countries.

There are studies published in the past 2 years that show 70% of all orthodontic patients end up with scarring on teeth because of poor hygiene. Our profession has been doing the same basic type of oral hygiene education for 40 years. I really think there’s an opportunity here for doctors to engage their patients in a way that they haven’t done before. OP

A.J. Zak is a freelance writer for Orthodontic Products. She can be reached at [email protected].