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[Herald Interview] Oral health care in the hands of consumers

Philips stresses prevention, connectedness and personalized home care for all

Deeptha Khanna, executive vice president and chief business leader of Personal Health at Royal Philips. (Philips)
Deeptha Khanna, executive vice president and chief business leader of Personal Health at Royal Philips. (Philips)
“Health is not about something that is in hospital. In fact, it is something that could be addressed earlier. One‘s health has much to do with lifestyle choices,” said Deeptha Khanna, head of personal health at multinational health care solution provider Royal Philips, in an interview with The Korea Herald.

Presenting at this year’s CES 2021, Philips' personal health products and solutions put an emphasis on prevention, connectedness and a safe home -- especially in bathrooms.

For those whose bathrooms still have a place for ordinary toothbrushes, Philips wants to introduce a smart alternative.

At the tech tradeshow, Philips has launched its most advanced electric toothbrush yet -- the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige.

The toothbrush comes with patented SenseIQ technology and in-built AI that can provide personalized oral health care according to each user’s brushing habits.

“If your natural habit is to press very hard when you brush your teeth, Sonicare 9900 Prestige will actually help you to adjust that to the right amount of intensity,” Khanna explained.

Even the most oral health-aware people can sometimes miss some of their deeper teeth, like the molars. Sonicare 9900 Prestige can provide real-time guidance on the right amount of time to spend brushing different parts of the teeth, and point out if any tooth was given insufficient attention.

Oral health is connected to the overall immunity of a person and should not be taken lightly, according to Philips.

“There is now a deeper awareness of how health is holistic and connected. We know for our own health care that our bodies are complex system and one part has impact on something else. Proactive care and good habits are a great way to ensure life and health,” Khanna said.

For countries whose regulations allow it, Sonicare 9900 Prestige will enable remote monitoring of users' oral health by health care providers. Korea is not included in the remote health care service.

“What COVID-19 has done is accelerate trends that have already been in place. We increasingly see the value of connectivity. Because the more people want their homes to be safe spaces, want to have more awareness of their health, want to be their own coach -- I think that leads to the commitment to continue to invest in smart technology,” Khanna said.

In Korea, the Philips Sonicare 9900 Prestige will launch in June.

According to Philips, Korea's MZ generation -- millennials and generation Z -- are influencing the premium market with the “Flex” consuming trend. The MZ generation have strong regard for self care, and do not hesitate to invest in high-quality everyday goods such as toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Due to the pandemic obstructing regular visits to the dentist for check-ups, and the increased time spent behind a mask, Philips is experiencing heightened demand for oral health care products that can remove bad breath and oral bacteria.

Philips says that only 10 percent of the Korean population is using electric toothbrushes, as opposed to some 20 to 30 percent users in the US and Canada, where the dental care costs are higher.

Other than toothbrushes, Philips is also targeting millennial moms who actively use mobile technology with the Pregnancy+ app that launched in October 2020, and the Baby+ app that is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2021.

The Pregnancy+ and Baby+ apps provide scientific information about every step of pregnancy and newborn rearing from certified obstetricians.

Khanna joined Royal Philips in July 2020 as its chief business leader of personal health. Prior to Philips, Khanna worked for Johnson & Johnson and P&G in Asia.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (