RSDM Researcher Closer to Developing Toothbrush for Patients with Special Needs

Dr. Maxine Strickland

Dr. Maxine Strickland has received $50,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue developing a toothbrush for children and people with special needs.

The new funding allows Dr. Strickland, an associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences,  to expand the design of the toothbrush, which is in the prototype development phase. Last year, she received $95,000 from Rutgers University Teach Advance to work with NJIT designers to begin work on the project.

Although she was initially inspired to create the toothbrush, which suctions water during use, for patients with disabilities, it can also be effective for children, the elderly and even astronauts, according to Strickland.

“We noted recently that astronauts may find it useful since all liquids are excavated and contained,” she said.

Dr. Strickland saw a need for the toothbrush after volunteering at the Matheny School for the developmentally disabled in Peapack-Gladstone, where many patients had trouble with oral health because they had difficulty swallowing, which caused them to aspirate during toothbrushing.

She is working on the prototype with Dr. Vivke Kumar and Kaytlyn Crowe of NJIT.