Squeeze Toothbrush

Squeeze is an electric toothbrush that is designed for the needs of those 70 and older. It’s is meant to be comfortable and simple without appearing clinical.

The Problem

This project began with the question, "can a toothbrush designed for the elderly appeal to everyone?" In the United State arthritis is the most common cause of disability, affecting more than 1 in 5 adults. The disease has its greatest effect on small joints like the hands and wrist, causing swelling, stiffness, and reduced movement and function. This can make properly cleaning teeth difficult and lead to additional health problems.

Design Opportunities

Large Features

Users with reduced grip like those suffering from arthritis need a larger brush with easy to activate buttons.

Duel Speeds

A high and low setting allows those with sensitive teeth and gums a way to acclimate to an electric brush.

Built-in Battery

A built-in rechargeable battery would mean no tedious compartments to open and no trips to the store.

Brushing Timer

Having a timer can be useful for the absent-minded to ensure a brushing time of two minutes.

The Current Solution

A tennis ball on the end of a toothbrush, is one of the most common remedy I found recommended for those who struggle with brushing due to arthritis. I was curious after seeing this recommendation online, so I spoke with a dental hygienist at my dentist's office. She confirmed, saying “In school we were taught to put the patient’s toothbrush into a tennis ball or bike handle”. It’s a smart hack, but when this is the status quo, there’s room for major improvement.

Early Ideation

In these early sketches, I explored not just the form but how the key functions could be intuitively incorporated into the brush. By keeping the sketches rough and gestural I allowed mistakes to inspire new forms and ideas. In more detailed sketches I fleshed out two main directions; one featuring integrated timers and another with hollow squeezable grips.

Model Evolution

The original inspiration for the form was a light bulb. Its bulbous lower portion is large enough to provide an easy grip, while its more slender top allows for precise control. The form was refined with a foam model, then constructed in Solidworks and FDM printed.

Yellow Foam
FDM Print

Understanding The Mechanics

It was important that squeeze became more than a concept. To further understand the mechanics of a typical electric toothbrush, I deconstructed an Arm and Hammer Spinbrush Pro. Once I was familiar with each of the parts and their function, I modeled them in Solidworks. The parts were then integrated into the assembly of my design.

Model Making

With the design finalized, the model was built in Solidworks and 3D printed in five separate parts to allow for easy finishing.

Each of the parts were then filled, primed and painted. Some parts received a soft touch coating to simulate rubber.

The charging dock was wired with a LED, coin-cell battery and reed switch activated by a magnet in the base of the brush.

Final Model

Having an accurate “looks-like” model meant I could not only test the ergonomics of the toothbrush’s form, but also get feedback from my target user group on the aesthetics of the design. Having this validation that the design was both functional and desirable was priceless.

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