Researchers develop oral sensor to track eating, drinking habits

Aug. 6, 2013

August 6, 2013

How often do your patients lie about what they’re eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing? I know that when I had braces, I stopped biting my nails and chewing gum – at least, that’s what I told my orthodontist. What happens when you can’t rely on patients to follow instructions – or tell you when they’ve habitually slipped up.

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Researchers from National Taiwan University in Taipei have developed an oral sensor that will be used to tell doctors what their patients did and when – from speaking and coughing to drinking and eating. The sensor, which can fit on a fake tooth or braces, judges oral activity by the movement of teeth.

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Though previous research has been conducted to study oral habits, this study is unique for using a sensor that was actually in the mouth.

The researches conducted their experiment on eight participants and found that the sensor could tell what activity was taking place around 94% of the time. Participants said that the sensor felt like a piece of popcorn that had been stuck between their teeth.

Hopefully, the next prototype will be more comfortable. The researchers plan to make it wireless with battery-recharging capabilities (wearers would remove the fake tooth at night to recharge it).

Finally, why are the researchers using this oral activity model? “Because the mouth is an opening into human health, this oral sensory system has the potential to enhance existing oral-related healthcare monitoring applications such as dietary tracking.”

Click here to read the short research overview, “Sensor-Embedded Teeth for Oral Activity Recognition.”

Lauren Burns is the editor of Proofs magazine and the email newsletters RDH Graduate and Proofs. She is currently based out of New York City. Follow her on Twitter: @ellekeid.