How “Smart Teeth” Could Change Dental Care Forever

A dentist holding a fake set of teeth in her hands showing how implants work

Everywhere you look, smart technology is making exciting leaps in healthcare, changing how people are cared for and their health issues treated. When it comes to teeth, we tend to take them for granted. We might only think about them when we’re in pain with a tooth cavity and need a dentist urgently. And yet, our teeth give us insight into our overall health: what we’re eating, if we’re healthy, and if we’re at risk of disease. Teeth could even reveal bullying, with research published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation showing that teens who are the victims of bullying tend to grind their teeth. Smart technology for teeth could help us to better understand the link between our teeth and overall health, completely changing dental care and encouraging healthier lifestyles. Here’s a study worth looking into about smart technology and teeth.  

Artificial Smart Teeth Could Improve Oral Health  

A recent study by Taiwanese researchers that was presented at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Switzerland found that by adding technology to teeth, dentists can gain a wealth of information from their patients.

In the study, scientists glued sensors onto eight volunteers’ teeth. The sensors were devices known as accelerometers that can recognize movement in the mouth. They were connected to wires to collect data from the participants’ teeth. The participants of the study were told to drink a bottle of water, cough, read a section of an article, and chew gum. They had to spend less than a minute on each of these tasks, and their actions were recorded.

These activities were important to study because they make the teeth move in different ways, and can therefore shed light on someone’s health, for instance why they’re coughing so much or if they’re chewing their food enough. Coughing could signal a health condition in the body, while not chewing food enough can cause plaque buildup that leads to cavities because not enough saliva is produced in the mouth to eliminate bacteria. Another oral health issue that such smart technology could help to spot is if the teeth aren’t positioned well. This puts a patient at greater risk of experiencing chips and wear and tear, as explained by Vibrant Dentistry. Advancements in smart dental technology could pinpoint issues such as the above, making dental care much easier.

Artificial Smart Teeth Could Highlight Unhealthy Eating Habits

There are currently many ways that dentists can spot unhealthy eating habits just by looking at your teeth. For instance, one tooth that’s darker than the rest can signal a dead nerve or previous root canal. According to Mesa Dentist Dr. Carl Metz, habits such as clenching, nail biting, and chewing ice can affect the overall appearance of teeth, including their shape, size, and position. Smart tech could help to treat such problems but also preempt them –by spotting unhealthy eating habits that can cause a variety of oral health problems. That’s where the second part of the Taiwanese study comes in.

The researchers embedded accelerometers in artificial teeth that could be removed from patients’ mouths. They found that these accelerometers would enable dentists to embed Bluetooth radios in patients’ teeth that could transmit data to mobile devices to be analyzed. This could help dentists uncover unhealthy eating habits in their patients and encourage them to have better ones. In the study, it was found that the device was 94 percent accurate in being able to determine what substances the participants were consuming. This smart tech could really help patients to become more mindful of how their lifestyle habits, such as eating, smoking, and clenching their teeth, are affecting their oral health as well as overall wellbeing.

Studies such as the above show promise in how smart technology could be used in dental care. It could change the way dentists spot and treat oral health conditions, while also empowering patients to gain a greater understanding of how to maintain a healthy smile.

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