How Technology Can Filter the Need for Check-Ups

Check-ups can be frustrating, especially when there’s nothing wrong with you.

Check-ups are necessary though. If there really is something wrong with you, a check up is the only way a professional can help before it gets worse. Annual check-ups are so high in demand, that it brings the health care system $8 billion annually.

However, some people are more in need of check-ups than others. Being able to monitor people’s health remotely can help doctors and dentists recognize the people most in need of such services.

At the International Symposium of Wearable Computers in Switzerland, a team from National Taiwan University presented a sensor that embeds within a single tooth. The sensor is small enough to fit inside a fake tooth or straddle outside a real one. It uses an accelerometer to monitor different activities of the mouth, as it breathes, eats, drinks, talks, coughs or smokes. It can detect up to 60 different activities; so a doctor can detect abnormal breathing, and a dentist can tell if there are issues with tooth grinding. The data from this sensor can be transferred to a computer.

The technology is still in its early stages of development. Its accuracy, which ranges from 60 to 95 percent depending on the person, can be improved. It needs to be safe enough so that all electrical parts are sealed, and so that if anybody swallows it, it would pass without harm. Instead of using wires to manually upload the data to computers, it could use some bluetooth technology to wirelessly report the data. These are all concerns the team will continue working on.


Acid Erosion

Don’t let the enamel on your teeth erode. The damage will be permanent.

The process is known as acid erosion. Teeth enamel are eroded by acids found in everyday foods like fruits, vegetables and soda (In particular, these foods often contain phosphoric and citrus acid). The acid softens tooth enamel, and the softened enamel can be worn away and become thinner over time. Acid erosion gradually changes the shape, texture and appearance of teeth.  It often causes sensitivity to temperature and pressure.

Acids have ph levels of less than 7, and saliva has ph levels of more than 7 (i.e. it’s a base); so Saliva works to neutralize acids. Sometimes though, saliva doesn’t neutralize fast enough, and the enamel gets worse over time. If you drink soda all day, and expose your teeth to the barrage of enamel killers, your saliva army will not win.

Acid erosion in some ways is worse than cavities. Like with a cavities, when you have tooth erosion, you are limited on food choices. But when you get a cavity, the dentist can just put in a filling. With acid erosion (which usually affects all the teeth at once), there’s not much a dentist could do. They could crown all the teeth, but that would be an expensive and extreme solution.

Here is some advice on how to avoid Acid erosion:

  • If you are going to drink soda (a major contributor to erosion), limit it to meals only. Do not drink it constantly throughout the day.
  • Brush your teeth after meals. Toothpaste re-mineralizes and strengthens areas that may have been weakened by acids. If you don’t want to brush after, try rinsing your mouth with water to get rid of present acids.
  • Chew sugar free gum, or better yet, gum containing Xylitol.