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Tiny tooth sensors will soon monitor our eating habits and more

Luana PASCU

March 28, 2018

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Tiny tooth sensors will soon monitor our eating habits and more

Innovative, unnoticeable tiny sensors attached to our teeth will monitor everything we eat and drink, and then send data such as alcohol, sodium and glucose levels directly to a smartphone for analysis.

Created by researchers from Tufts University School of Engineering, this is an extraordinary discovery in health and clinical studies, superior to previous medical wearables that had multiple flaws and limitations. The current sensors are 2mm x 2mm, flexible and easy to adjust to any tooth surface, plus color-changing based on the ingested nutrients. The sensors are made up of three different layers that absorb the chemicals, collect the data and then transmit waves in the radiofrequency system.

Because the goal is to get better insight on the strong link between health and diet, the team wants to upgrade the sensors to accurately detect a wider range of nutrients, chemicals and even psychological states.

“In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, PhD, corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin, or any other surface.”

Since people are not always aware of what or how much they eat, accurate supervision of dietary intake represents a significant progress in the field of medical wearables and preventative medicine, as they may end up saving lives thanks to the data analyzed. However, the sensors could also raise issues about data privacy due to the high amount of personal information they collect, and the lack of clear insight on how the data is protected from third-parties, theft or if it is sold for advertising purposes.

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