Smart mouth guard tells users if they're grinding their teeth

The prototype bruxism-detecting mouth guard, and its app(Credit: University of Florida)

Bruxism – or "tooth-grinding" to most of us – is a very common problem. Often caused by stress, it can cause tooth damage, headaches, insomnia and jaw pain. Unfortunately, because it occurs when we're sleeping, many people don't even realize they're doing it. Often, a night spent under observation at a sleep clinic is the only way of "catching it in action." That could be about to change, however, thanks to the development of a bruxism-detecting mouth guard.

The device was created by a University of Florida team led by associate professors Yong-Kyu Yoon and Fong Wong. Yoon first came up with the idea when he was developing electronic dentures that let the dentist know if they don't fit, even if the patient doesn't realize it themselves.

Like those dentures, the mouth guard is equipped with sensors – in its case, those sensors detect how much force is being applied by the jaw, and which teeth are being affected most. It transmits that data via Bluetooth to an app running on a smartphone or other device, where it can subsequently be accessed by a dentist.

Additionally, because it's worn on a nightly basis, the device could be used as part of the treatment (as opposed to just the diagnosis), letting patients know when they've been tooth-grinding.

Yoon states that if the mouth guard were configured differently, it could also be used to detect dehydration or dangerous core body temperatures in athletes or firefighters, along with measuring the severity of blows to the head.

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