image credit: University of Florida
It is estimated that bruxism affects more than 6 million people in the UK, alone. Many who do grind their teeth are unaware that they do so. Now, a new device developed by researchers at the University of Florida will be able to detect if you suffer from bruxism, tell your dentist about it and even help you stop grinding.
The smart mouth guard is an improvement on current methods of detecting bruxism as patients can wear the device at home. Synced up with a smart phone, it can let the patient’s dentist know about the issue remotely and steps can be taken to try and fix the issue.
Created by Yong-Kyu Yoon, Fong Wong and colleagues, their concept won 2nd place at the International Contest of Applications in Nano/Micro Technologies in Anchorage, Alaska. Yoon said he came up with the idea for the device when he was developing a set of dentures that alert the dentist to an improper fit even if the patient doesn’t complain about it. Applying the same idea to bruxism led to the creation of this new device.
The prototype sends the information to a computer or smart phone via Bluetooth, where a dentist or orthodontists can retrieve it, make a diagnosis and suggest treatment. Yoon pointed out: “That kind of information has been unavailable until now.”
His colleague, Wong, added: “Wearing a mouth guard is less intrusive than spending time in a sleep clinic. It cuts cost when it reduces the number of clinical psychology sessions… The advantage is that the guard extends the treatment beyond the time spent in the clinic. This promises greater effectiveness and lower cost.”
The next iteration of this technology will see it aimed at athletes. Yoon said: “Using different types of sensors, it could detect dehydration or dangerous core body temperature and alert a coach to pull a player off the field. The same information could be useful for firefighters.”