Exposing Oral Health Habits with Technology

It has been said that the mouth is the window to a person’s health.  Because oral health is so closely connected to overall wellness, experts have theorized that doctors could gather a wealth of information by examining a patient’s oral health status and habits.  This hypothesis is what led researchers at National Taiwan University to develop a method of monitoring oral behavior.  Details were recently published in a Scientific American article.

To test their hypothesis, scientists developed an accelerometer-based oral sensory system.  The system was designed to determine how the mouth is being used based on movement of the teeth.  To test the device, a prototype system was placed in the mouths of eight participants, recognizing each person’s oral behavior 94% of the time.  Researchers are now looking to build a wireless version that could potentially fit inside a fake tooth or attach to a pair of braces. According to the article, the sensor could then send you or your doctor a message whenever you “cheat” on your diet or promise to quit smoking.

While I think this concept is really fascinating, I’m also a little leery of it.  It could provide quite a bit of insight about health and habits while keeping people accountable for their actions.  I’m just not so sure I want a device implanted in my mouth, reporting what I’m eating, drinking, or any other actions, to my doctor, dentist, or anyone else for that matter.  Call me old fashioned, but I get a little unsettled when technology has the capability of limiting my privacy.  Sometimes, I just want to enjoy a bowl of ice cream, alone, in a dark, quiet room while I ponder life.  Is that so bad? My doctor might think so as my sugar consumption triggers an alarm in his office.  What do you think about this new technology? Would you be willing to have this device implanted in your mouth?

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