Big brother is watching…your teeth | VDH Hunt Valley

teeth-tattoo-278Say you go the the dentist for the first time in years and find out you have several cavities. After some discussion with your dentist, you realize that some of your dietary habits may be to blame – maybe you thought apple juice was ok for your teeth since it was a fruit juice; maybe you thought those energy drinks did nothing but give you that boost you need midway through your day; maybe you heard that chewing gum is good for your teeth, but you were chewing the type with added sugar.

Now let’s say you go the dentist to discuss replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant. Your dentist informs you of the significantly greater risk of implant failure in smokers versus non-smokers. You really want to quit smoking, but you’ve tried several times, unsuccessfully.

How about diabetes? Let’s say you’ve been treated by your endocrinologist for several years to get your diabetes under better control, but have only experienced a moderate improvement. With the huge list of foods that can cause unhealthy spikes in your blood sugar, you find it difficult to remember what to eat and what to avoid.

What if there was a dental device that could help you with any of these problems? Researchers at National Taiwan University are working on just that.

An oral sensory device has been used in a limited number of trial patients and has been found to be 94% effective in transmitting accurate data to a health practitioner regarding the patients oral habits – everything from smoking to grinding to diet. The sensor can be placed in a number of typical dental appliances such as a crown or an orthodontic bracket.

While some, justifiably, would view this type of sensor as an invasion of privacy, others might find relief in the fact that a health professional can examine data regarding oral habits that take place outside of the office. Too often patients don’t know whether they grind their teeth at night or clench their teeth during the day. Some patients have difficulty remembering every aspect of their diet while sitting in the dental chair. Such a sensor can allow patients to know more about their oral habits, many of which are so ingrained that it is difficult to acknowledge that they are actually happening.

The technology is still in the very early developmental stages, but the potential for more information is intriguing at the very least. What do you think? Would you allow such a device to be placed in your mouth?

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