Do you often find yourself tempted to be less than honest with your dentist about your diet and oral hygiene habits? You’re definitely not alone in that, and that seemingly innocent fib makes it difficult for dentists to get an accurate idea of what you are doing – or not doing – to take care of your pearly whites. However, a new invention could prevent you from bending the tooth-truth with your dentist: implanted tooth sensors.
Count Us In!
These devices, recently developed by a group at National Taiwan University, are about a millimeter long and are implanted into your tooth by a dentist. In a small group study, they measured how well the sensors were able to distinguish between the subjects chewing, smoking, or speaking, and they were accurate about 94 percent of the time. In their current stage of development, they can’t sense if a person is eating a healthy meal or is living off of food that is detrimental to oral health; but they can give dentists information about whether overeating or cigarette smoking are lifestyle habits.
While these tooth sensors would be able to give your dentist a more accurate picture of your lifestyle, there are a few drawbacks that suggest they would realistically do little to no good in preventing tooth decay. As previously mentioned, they only sense when a person is eating, smoking, or talking. What about the frequency he/she brushes and flosses? The sensors also cannot tell whether or not a person gets regular dental checkups. If the sensors only detect these three factors, one of which has no bearing on oral health, their actual usefulness would be extremely limited and not worth the time and money for development.
In addition, how many people would readily consent to having a tooth sensor implanted into one of their teeth that tells their dentists the details of their lifestyle habits? The number is likely not as high as these researchers would hope. If patients do consent to having a sensor implanted, can it be removed? How difficult is the process? Would dentists be able to implant the sensors into the mouths of patients with poor oral health, without their consent, in hopes of finding out what the cause might be if they see the problems as significant enough to justify it?
All of these factors suggest that while tooth sensors have potential to give dentists a better idea of people’s oral hygiene habits, they are unlikely to make as much of a difference as they are anticipated to. Even if people do consent to having them implanted, any changes people make in their lives, especially health-related changes, have to come from their own desire to improve; using technology to try to compel change will likely have little or no long-term effect. Perhaps the traditional brushing and flossing routine is the way to stay after all.
Looking for a dentist for your next checkup? Give BDG a call today at (702) 388-8888 and make an appointment with one of the best dentists in all of Las Vegas! We solemnly swear: no sensors without consent.