Image courtesy of Lura Health
Smart Band With Signal 6408f007f2d82

Technology in Two Minutes: A Fitbit for the mouth

March 17, 2023
Available soon: a “Fitbit”-type of technology in the mouth that tracks oral health. It's expected to have a phenomenal impact on caries risk assessment (and more).

Whether going for a run or walking around the office, the Fitbit tracker has become a staple of modern life, calculating heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, and steps. Soon you will be able to have a “Fitbit”-type of technology in the mouth that tracks oral health.

Lura Health cofounders Daniel Weinstein, Noah Hill, and Dr. Saam Borzog are off and running. They have developed a sensor that can track pH and other body chemicals from saliva in real time. Saliva can be used to detect more than 1,000 health conditions. But saliva testing now is a one-time sample—drool into a tube and send a sample to a lab or test with a kit, and then wait … and wait. With Lura Health’s sensor, testing can happen whenever and wherever you want. Sensors are embedded into aligners or retainers that are easily removable for eating, drinking, and brushing. The sensor can also be integrated into a small pad and cemented onto a tooth just like an orthodontic bracket or band.

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Daniel Weinstein, CEO, says, “With aligners, we want to be a ‘white label solution.’ This would mean that top aligner companies would integrate our sensors into their products, transforming them into wearable health-monitoring solutions. The branding and distribution would remain with the company, whether through the mail or strongly rooted in clinical care at the office. No matter how patients currently get their aligners/retainers, they can elect to include a smart device.”

Since demineralization can be detected through saliva and treated in its earliest stages through pH detection, it’s possible to consistently monitor levels of caries and tooth erosion and prevent damage. Implants, crowns, and other restoratives often fail due to poor oral hygiene. Smartphone users can receive real-time alerts and act to correct harmful pH imbalances that can threaten their restorative or cosmetic investments.

The future is full of potential, notes Weinstein: “We potentially can add markers to indicate perio disease, inflammation, caries, biofilm, or even oral cancers—so many oral health-related indicators in the saliva.” The implications even extend to greater collaboration with physicians, who would want to monitor body chemicals such as glucose for diabetes, sodium and potassium for hypertension, heart disease, and kidney disease. Ultimately, the long-term vision is to measure factors such as viral load, allergies, hormones, and drug adherene with a wearable bracket. “The wearable bracket will provide real-time continual feedback and health alerts at the earliest signs of potential harm and share that with the dentist and doctor,” says Weinstein.

Patients will be asking for this type of smart technology. It will have a phenomenal impact on caries risk assessment, oral hygiene instruction, and restorative success, as well as on practice reputation and referrals. That’s not just a spit in the bucket.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

About the Author

Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS

Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer-in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, cofounder of LightForce Orthodontics, a member of the Dental Economics advisory board, and founder of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards. He was selected in 2021 by Global Summits Institute as one of the World’s Top 100 Doctors.

Updated September 20, 2022

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