A new breakthrough in technology by researchers at the National Taiwan University may outfit future mouths with a Wi-Fi enabled tooth to help in everything from stopping smoking to weight loss. By tracking jaw motion, this wearable technology can be used in numerous health care applications, such as food and fluid intake monitoring, and even tracking daily habits.
Since each action or activity in your mouth has its own unique movement, researchers were able to connect movements from an embedded sensor to particular activities. By embedding an accelerometer, like those found in most smartphones, inside an artificial denture, researchers were able to achieve a 94% accuracy in differentiating between chewing, eating, speaking, coughing, smoking, breathing and drinking. The researchers believe that this data could be collected and sent directly to a doctor or your own smartphone to help curb bad habits or encourage good ones. As human mouths are nearly always in motion, they can provide excellent streams of data for use in all sorts of health treatment and diagnosis.
The fake tooth, which looks just like a regular molar, could even be used to train those in voice professions, or to help those people with speech impediments. Dentists could also use a technology like this for patients who grind their teeth and to see how certain dental procedures affect an individual. In their paper, the Taiwanese scientists noted that, “Because our mouth is an opening into assessing the health of the human body, it presents the opportunity for the placement of a strategic sensor for detecting human oral activities,”.
Not Quite Ready for Prime Time
The researchers were also quick to point out that this new device would have to calibrated to every person as we all have different ways of moving our mouths when we chew, swallow, or speak. The Taiwanese prototype was affixed with dental cement in the test subjects’ mouths and was connected to a computer by a thin wire. Though this version has to be completely removed to charge the battery and be cleaned, the scientists hope that future versions can have a long-life battery and connect to computers via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology. The researchers will first have to ascertain the safety of these types of transmitters within the mouth, along with how sufficiently to power the device.
So although there won’t be internet browsing with your bicuspids today, wearable technology like these transmitting teeth and the new Google Glass may help dentists, doctors and healthcare professionals treat patients in the near future. Portland area dentist Dr. Nathan Austria and the rest of the Bethany Family Dental team are always looking for the best new technology to help our patients.