‘Smart’ Mouth Guards may soon be available
Researchers from the University of Florida have developed a mouth guard that can determine if you’re grinding your teeth at night. It can also let your dentist know how you’re grinding your teeth so we can help treat the problem. There is another version that is currently being developed to help determine if you’re dehydrated or if you have sustained a concussion. These tools could be very helpful for dentists and physicians alike in treating many different issues.
It is believed that at least 20% of the population suffers from bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth). There could be a variety of causes, but it may result in damaged teeth, headaches, sore jaw, or insomnia. The challenge for dentists is determining the cause of any of these symptoms because there are different origins. Having access to an appliance that could help us know what is happening at night would be a huge advantage. We could more quickly and more effectively treat the issues or symptoms.
The prototype that has been developed sends the information to a computer or phone via Bluetooth that can be easily accessed by the dentist or doctor. And while the implications in dentistry are obvious for the first version, there may also be some use for athletes. Early detection of concussions or dehydration can keep athletes at every level safer.
Wearing a mouth guard and sleeping in your own bed is a lot easier than going to a sleep clinic for a full study. With increased ease of use and hopefully increased access with a ‘smart’ mouth guard, dentists may soon be able to know more about your night time clenching or grinding habits. The faster and more accurately we can diagnose these problems, the better and more predictably we can treat the cause without over treatment. We certainly hope this continues to develop and improve so we can put it to use in our office!