Editor's Spotlight

Is Colgate’s new optic-sensor toothbrush a beauty device?

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

photo courtesy of Colgate
photo courtesy of Colgate

Related tags beauty tech Oral care microbiome Colgate-palmolive

The oral care brand is showing its Plaqless Pro Smart Electric Toothbrush at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. And the biofilm-busting device has already won the show’s Best of Innovation for Health and Beauty award.

“We're excited to introduce this breakthrough technology with sensors that can see through foamy toothpaste to provide information that helps people take stronger ownership of their oral health,” ​Patricia Verduin, chief technology officer for Colgate-Palmolive, tells the press. 

“Our new Plaqless Pro,” ​she explains, “delivers the superior cleaning of a powered toothbrush, the proven location tracking of advanced oral care devices and now the detection of an oral scanner that enables personal brushing feedback in real time for remarkable clean.”

Oral care and the microbiome

Microorganisms live nearly everywhere in and on the human body. And the biofilm that the new Colgate device promises to detect and eliminate is the result of those organisms working in concert to dominate the oral environment.

According to the company’s media release, “when launched later this year, the Colgate Plaqless Pro toothbrush will be the first commercially available electric toothbrush that detects biofilm buildup and coaches in real time for more complete brushing.”

And as Dr. Maria Ryan, Colgate's chief dental officer, explains it, the new technology is as much about personalization as it is about oral wellness. “In the dentist's office, we're beginning to see a shift toward precision oral care that tailors treatment to each patient's specific needs,” ​says Ryan in the media release.

“The Colgate Plaqless Pro smart electric toothbrush is,”​ she says, “inspired by that shift, and improves brushing efficacy by accounting for an individual's brushing technique and the biofilm buildup in their mouth. And by immediately alerting the user when an area is clean, Plaqless Pro coaches them to brush better, helping both the patient and the oral care provider to build an even stronger partnership in achieving optimal oral health.”

A shift in consumer expectations and behavior

Colgate’s new smart toothbrush is helping educate consumers about the presence and importance of the microbiome, especially about the role it plays in both wellness and poor health.

And this new knowledge will inform the way consumers approach microbiome beauty. Ingredient makers like BASF and innovative indie brands like AYUNA less is beauy are already working with what’s called quorum quenching technology.

Microorganisms communicate and collaborate to form biofilm when they reach critical mass or quorum. This is usually somehow detrimental to the health of the host (in the case of oral biofilm, it leads to plaque). By working with ingredients and formulas that disrupt this communication and collaboration, beauty makers are creating skin care that preemptively does what the new Colgate device promises to do.

At this past December’s SCC Annual Meeting and Technology Showcase in New York City, Phillip Ludwig, a bioactives technical account manager at BASF, presented his team’s work to develop ingredients and technologies that “limit the virulence [of microorganisms] without inhibiting growth” ​as well as “different ways to quench…and at different stages of bacteria’s virility cycle.”​  

Similarly, ROELMI HPC is working on ingredients meant for microbiome care rather than skin care, per se—an approach that also fits in with this direction of scientific and consumer understanding of the microbiome.

And at the 2019 AIRS International Conference on Genomics and Microbiomics in Barcelona, Spain, Isabel Ramos, co-founder and chief scientific officer of AYUNA less is beauty, spoke about her brand’s approach to quorum quenching skin and body care. Learn more about quorum quenching in this Cosmetics Design video interview with Ramos, filmed on the sidelines of last year’s AIRS Conference.



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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