University of Florida Associate Professor Yong-Kyu “YK” Yoon came up with a smart mouth guard, which is embedded with sensors that monitor teeth grinding.
The device, which is still not available to the general public, targets people who have bruxism or teeth grinding, that can lead to damaged teeth, headaches, insomnia, and a sore jaw. In the US alone, bruxism affects 20% of the population, or some 30 million people.
The smartphone-connected mouth guard prototype collects the data round the clock, and sends it to a dentist or orthodontist. The provider on its end is able to track the user’s habits, including how much force is being applied to the teeth, make a diagnosis, and suggest a treatment.
“Wearing a mouth guard is less intrusive than spending time in a sleep clinic,” said Fong Wong, an associate professor in UF’s Restorative Dental Sciences Department and Craniofacial Center who also worked on the project. “It cuts costs when it reduces the number of clinical psychology sessions.”
Beyond the general public, researchers are also working on a different version of the product, with different sensors, that would be used by athletes. That model would be able to identify if an athlete is dehydrated, whether he or she was overheating, and/or detect a concussion based on the strength of a blow to the head.