Brushing Teeth - Sink Monitoring?

My house is about as automated as technology currently allows. We have a pretty busy life with my wife and I both working full time jobs, so I’ve tried to use automation to help with the little parenting things that are routine reminders… so the TV and lights shut off at night, wifi gets cut to his device, etc. Audio reminders for getting ready, motion sensors for turning off lights, etc.

My dilemma: Brushing teeth. Aside from reminding everyday and checking, I’d like to automate my child brushing his teeth. I’ve been trying to think of a way, leak sensor in the bathroom pipe? Vibration sensor on the toothpaste… remind via audio every 1 minute after a certain time or keep wifi cut off on the phone until they brush?

The community here is really smart and I may be missing a device or something already available. Anyone have any ideas?

Is it an electric toothbrush?

smart plug on the toothbrush charger would probably be able to detect charging current when he puts it back in the morning.


Leak sensor in bathroom pipe probably wont work because the trap holds water to keep the sewer smell out of your bathroom. Maybe put the tooth brush in a drawer or medicine cabinet and use a door/window sensor? Then you still have to have that level of trust with your child that he/she actually brushed their teeth and didn’t just pull the drawer open and shut it after a minute or two.


What about a pressure sensitive mat in front of the sink connected to a z-wave contact sensor? Reminders continue to go off until it’s stepped on (closed) for 60 seconds or something.

A lot depends on whether you think your son would intentionally try to fool the monitoring system.

As @AllJetNoPilot and @Jdberry mentioned, there are several ways that you can monitor activity that would be part of this process, and use the absence of that activity to trigger reminders. The contact sensor on the medicine cabinet or a drawer where the toothpaste is kept is a really good example of this, often used for people with Brain injuries or cognitive challenges, but also useful just with regular kids.

The issue with all of these is that if a child wants to fool you, they can usually figure out how to do it.

Depending on the age or temperament of your kid, the Foreo ISSA mini toothbrush may help. This is an electric toothbrush designed for kids which has a happy face indicator that turns on after you have brushed for two minutes. Then if you haven’t brushed again in 12 hours, it changes to a frowning face.



Reviews are all over the place, but a lot of the negative ones are from adults who tried it and found that it wasn’t as powerful as other sonic toothbrushes. But that’s because it’s intended for kids. Also this isn’t a spin brush – – you have to move your hand like a regular brush. But it does have a sonic component.

My dentist recommends these, and I trust him a lot. If you want to try it, buy one of the colors which is sold directly by Amazon and it should cost a little less as well as have a better return policy if it doesn’t work for you.

I would probably combine a contact sensor on the drawer with the toothpaste and the foreo. Start with gentle reminders and see how it goes. :sunglasses:

When I was a kid, my mom would also do occasional spot checks (literally!) With the Butler GUM chewable Red Cote tablets that leave red spots any place you haven’t brushed. These also stain lips, though, so you only want to use the last thing at night so they’ll be clear in the morning. I would only buy these at a local store, though, not online, to make sure you’re getting the real thing and not something that’s expired. These take more time because you have to watch the kid use them, but as an occasional check I think they can add a lot to a routine. I know they did at our house (four kids). :grin:

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Also tagging @jmay33 and @bamarayne in case they have any more ideas. :sunglasses:

I’ve been doing home automation for about 5 years now with ST, Wink and others, and i’ve had my 4 kids grow up through their teenage years with it.

IMHO, the more that i’ve automated (turning off a light when no one is in the room, reminding someone to close a window, etc) the more it has made my kids either forget about doing that simple task… (turning off a light), or more they have decided to rebel against it and fool it. As they have gone off to college, they have found that the lights don’t turn off themselves etc.

I would think that attempting to check on brushing teeth everyday is not worth the effort, a simple reminder through Sonos to remind them to brush their teeth would be good, but besides that I really don’t think it is worth the effort.

I’ve done everything with restricting internet etc, I don’t think it is a good battle to have I think discussing it and having that long running parenting battle will be better for them long term.

I just think that reminding and checking or so critical, that even if it were automated you would have to do that anyways.

Just my 2 cents…


My wife have thought about and talked about this subject for quite a while, we have the same problem with our 7 y/o son.

My home is definitely on full auto!

One of the issues that we have discussed with home automation and raising children is, are we just teaching them to be lazy and not learn the responsibility of accountability. For this little issue we found a way to combine both.

I wrote a little app, EchoSistant. One of the things I put into a recent version was a feature I called “Task Trackers”. Quick and simple… When my son is done brushing his teeth he says this to the Amazon Dot in their bathroom, “Alexa, tell Nathan he brushed his teeth”. Alexa then makes a record of that action. I can ask later by saying, “Alexa, ask Nathan when he brushed his teeth” and she will respond with the time and date that he did it. It also sends a text message to my wife and I when he records it.

The text message gives us a visual for him to understand later when he gets caught trying to fool us. We teach him not to lie, and that if he records that he did it, and he didn’t… he’s lying. He then loses a privilege for that action. So far, he’s only tried to fool us twice.

Yes, he has to remember to tell the Dot. But, at 7 y/o he loves talking to it. So, the combination of playing with Alexa and brushing his teeth has become fun. He likes to ask me if I got the message that he brushed his teeth. It’s been working really well for us so far.

The Task Trackers have solved a few other problems we’ve run into as well.


You’re no fun :wink:

Could a smart toothbrush help (Bluetooth so not ST compatible though)? Only $93 after coupon …


I think the Oral-B could be very helpful with older kids, particularly if they’re old enough to have their own smart phone. A lot of them will enjoy the process of tracking themselves with the app, just as millennial adults do (the target market for that particular toothbrush).

With younger kids, I think the foreo might work better even though it doesn’t connect with anything. But just the light up :blush::slightly_frowning_face: Symbols on the toothbrush itself could be a motivating reminder. But then might not be as motivating for an older kid.

I kinda like the idea of putting a rechargeable toothbrush on a smart outlet. You don’t even need to tell your kid you are tracking it but you would know. This way if you see it hasen’t been charged in three days you can confront them knowing you are right. Takes them out of the equation completely but still lets you track.

Mine is only 2 so I have some time before I really worry about this. :slight_smile:

This won’t work, kids would figure it out very, very quickly. The more complex the solutions I’ve run across the more it just encourages the kids to work around it. I have 4 teenagers, and they have grown up the last 4 years with ST. They wouldn’t know you are tracking it until the first time you confront them, and then it becomes almost pointless.

I had a TON of hope early on, I could use HA to help with these types of things and most of those scenarios have failed pretty significantly. You just have to be persistent, and out stubborn the kids to get the kids to do those types of things.

You could give it a try, I like what @JDRoberts says it would encourage them if they can track the data, but it is tough.

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I like the idea Jason @bamarayne and I think that is great. I have 3 girls and 1 boy teenager, and the boy has been the one who has become the most clever when attempting to fool different HA.

The other thing I encountered is when they hit teenage years, none of the HA was fun or cool and it become a battle that they didn’t have their privacy or all of this checking on them we weren’t trusting them.

I had hoped it would solve all of these, and it did some solve things but it created other issues that i didn’t even have to deal with when i was a teenager.

It is a every evolving battle and struggle to figure out how to balance that with kids.


Hmmmm. Perhaps a toothbrushing robot that has a little dispenser and spit sink built in, and travels from bed to bed at the time programmed for that child or cult each evening?

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Thanks for all the responses everyone, some great ideas that I never thought of! I ended up using the idea of energy monitoring on recharge of cheaper oral b toothbrush (through aeotec nano switch energy monitor) connected to ST… have had great luck with it!

I agree with all the other parents too, “parenting automation” does create it’s own form of challenges. In no way do I take a hands off approach as being a parent, I approach it with our son as more of a this is designed to help you not that we don’t trust him or are trying to secretly nab him through automation… although once the teen hormones kick in I can see how it would go south as others stated.

Thanks again ST community, smart and great ideas as always.