Most people grind their teeth involuntarily, otherwise called bruxism, during sleep or due to medications, psychological stress.
Engineers at the University of Florida have developed a smart mouth guard that can detect when a patient grinds his teeth, issuing warnings to stop and letting their dentist know they have a problem.
The device has a sensor that detects the characteristic vibrations of teeth grinding against each other. Within the mouth guard, a bluetooth radio is paired with a smartphone to send readings that can be reviewed later and sound alarms to stop grinding.
The mouth guard is currently outfitted with only one type of sensor, but the researchers plan to expand its capabilities to be able to measure body temperature and levels of hydration, as well as include accelerometers that can detect potential concussions.
At least 20 percent of the U.S. population - about 30 million people - suffer from bruxism, which frequently is caused by stress and can lead to damaged teeth, headaches, insomnia, and a sore jaw.