Good news for those facing the nightly grind
June 25, 2015
A team of University of Florida students representing the United States took a second-place prize in an international technology competition for its development of a smart mouth guard that dentists can use to diagnose and treat teeth grinding.
The team was led by Yong-Kyu “YK” Yoon, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Fong Wong, an associate professor in UF’s Restorative Dental Sciences Department and Craniofacial Center. They garnered the recognition at the International Contest of Applications in Nano/Micro Technologies in Anchorage, Alaska. The group was one of 19 finalist teams from 12 countries. More than 15,000 students from countries including China, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and New Zealand vied throughout the year for a berth in the finals.
The smart mouth guard is equipped with sensors that allow it to detect if you’re grinding your teeth, tell your dentist and even help you stop doing it. The prototype the team created does all of that and can send the information via Bluetooth to a computer or smart phone, where a dentist or orthodontist can retrieve it, make a diagnosis and suggest treatment.
An estimated 20 percent of the U.S. population – about 60 million people – suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, and most aren’t even aware they do it.
The next iteration, currently under development, could be aimed at athletes. Using different types of sensors, Yoon said, it could detect dehydration or dangerous core body temperature and alert a coach to pull a player off the field. That same information could be useful in protecting firefighters.
“We identified a niche market that’s in a very important area,” said Yoon, who also is director of the Multidisciplinary Nano and Microsystems Lab at UF.
The UF team took one of four second-place spots. The contest also awarded two first-places prizes, six third-places and four special (honorable) mentions.
Also serving as a team adviser with Yoon and Wong was electrical and computer engineering professor Huikai Xie. Student members of the UF team were Justin Correll and Tim Ajmani, electrical and computer engineering undergraduates; Troy Templin, a biomedical engineering undergraduate; and Sheng-Po Fang, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering.