Tooth-mounted sensors track your diet and health from inside your mouth

tooth mounted sensor toothsensor
SilkLab, Tufts University
SilkLab, Tufts University

High-tech wearables are everywhere, from our wrists to our pets to our … mouths?

Engineers at Tufts University have created tiny sensors that attach to teeth. It’s not a fashion statement, though it could very well someday become one. Instead, the wireless sensors are designed to monitor health and dietary habits, relaying data about sugar, salt, and alcohol intake to a wearer’s mobile device. It’s like a little nutritionist in your mouth that keeps tabs on every time you cheat on your diet.

If the eyes are windows to the soul, the mouth is a doorway to our health. The food that passes through it has a direct effect on our overall health, and a bunch of biomarkers can be picked up from our spit. With their tooth-mounted biosensor, the Tufts team aims to take measurements from inside the mouth, recording what’s been eaten and how the body has responded.

To do so, they sandwiched biosensors between layers of gold, which act like a little antenna, collecting and relaying physiological data.

“I think the best way to think about it is a little Ziploc bag,” Fiorenzo Omenetto, a Tufts engineer who led the research, told Digital Trends. “Each side of the bag has an antenna and inside the bag there is a “sensitive element.'” These sensitive elements can respond to things like pH and glucose, transmitting measurements either wirelessly, through radio frequencies, or physically, for example by changing color and shape. “Calibrating all of these responses and changing material combinations allows for detection of what is happening in the oral cavity, for example, or on the surface of teeth,” Omenetto said.

In a paper published last week in the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers discuss how the tooth-mounted wearable could be used for both medical and lifestyle purposes, helping both patients and people who just want  to live healthier.

“While we are aware about what we ingest, we may indulge or deal with overeating pathologies,” Omenetto said. “On the other hand, sampling and monitoring analytes in the oral cavity could help in a number of ways, from monitoring dental health to monitoring physiological states, such as fatigue, through saliva sampling. Obviously, the latter applications require device refinements in terms of sensitivity and specificity to the analytes of interest.”

The device is less obtrusive than previous in-mouth wearables, but it’s still far from discreet, thanks to gold outer layers that give wearers the look of a cyberpunk pirate. Omenetto admits he and his team didn’t design it to be inconspicuous, but said you could always wear it on a molar.

Smart Home

With a simple command, Alexa can arm all your security devices

Alexa customers can query status plus arm or disarm home security systems several companies. New Alexa Guard skills set your home to away mode, send alerts when alarms or sensors go off, and contact home security monitoring services.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Smart Home

These accessories take your already awesome Instant Pot to a whole new level

If you're familiar with the Instant Pot, you know that this bad boy acts as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, egg boiler, and a lot more. Here are some must-have accessories to make Instant Pot cooking even better.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.