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13 April 2015

Trinity Researchers Invent Intelligent Mouthguard to Record our Daily Grind

Teeth gnashing effects up to half a million Irish people on a daily basis

A team of researchers, Dr. Ramesh Babu and Dr. James Doyle from School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Padraig McAuliffe and Prof. Brian O’Connell in the Dublin Dental Hospital have today announced that their new spin‐out company, SelfSense Technologies Ltd has licensed sensor technology from Trinity College, and secured €100k investment from NDRC. The company has unveiled a novel intelligent mouth guard device called SmartSplint, which accurately records and monitors teeth grinding (bruxism) of patients and allows their dentists to help them manage the condition more effectively.

SelfSense Technologies Ltd will develop diagnostic and monitoring sensors for tooth‐grinding and SmartSplint will be brought to market in autumn this year by the Trinity College spin‐out company. The company is currently taking part in the NDRC VentureLab programme for scitech start-up companies.

SelfSense Technologies has secured a licence to technologies developed with over €700k in grant funding from EI, SFI and HRB at Trinity College Dublin and the Dublin Dental Hospital. The team is seeking to raise investment in the next 6‐9 months and continues to work in close collaboration with the world class research and clinical facilities at Dental Hospital, the School of Physics and the AMBER Centre at Trinity College Dublin.

Tooth grinding or clenching is a very common issue affecting up to half a million Irish people on a daily basis. The nightly grinding of teeth goes far beyond that of a minor inconvenience. This can be a chronic condition, leading to severe facial pain and headaches, dental wear and damage to dental restorations such as crowns, veneers and implants. The cost of repairing teeth damaged by bruxism can run into the thousands or even tens of thousands over time but can be greatly reduced by wearing a night guard (splint). Unfortunately, because bruxism mainly occurs at night, many patients don’t realise that they are grinding. Some don’t use the splints appropriately and the tooth damage and long‐term repair costs continue to mount. SmartSplint will be able to deliver up to date, personalised information about bruxism right to the patient’s phone and help them to understand their condition better and perhaps point to how they could modify their lifestyles to reduce how much they grind.

Dr. Ramesh Babu, Senior Research Fellow, School of Physics and a Principal Investigator at AMBER, Trinity College and co-founder of the new company, said: “SelfSense Technologies brings together a team with expertise in materials science, and profound knowledge and experience in the dentistry sector to help resolve an issue that affects up to half a million Irish people daily. We are pleased SelfSense Technologies has been so successful in its funding applications so far, with over €800,000 having been raised to date. At present we have hired two scientific researchers and as we push forward with our second round of funding applications we will look to hire further researchers and expand the team.“

Dentists understanding and ability to manage the condition will also be greatly improved. Dr. Padraig McAuliffe, co‐founder of SelfSense Technologies, said: “As a dentist, it can be very difficult to know whether an individual patient has bruxism until we see that some damage has been done. By then it’s too late. Early diagnosis and prevention of damage are key. We developed SmartSplint because there were no bruxism tests available that we considered suitable or practical for widespread use at an affordable price. The success of treatment for tooth decay and gum disease were revolutionised by the development of simple tests and we hope that SmartSplint can do the same for bruxism.“

Dr. James Doyle, a former School of Physics researcher, and now the Commercialisation Development Manger in the AMBER centre, said: “Having pursued both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the School of Physics, I am keenly aware of the strong ethos which exists within the school to translate world class research into commercial products. Working within this positive environment has been crucial in achieving our success to date. Our mission statement is perfectly aligned with that of the School of Physics - to provide a positive impact on society and the Irish economy alike. SelfSense Technologies has already created 5 jobs that didn’t exist at the beginning on the year.“

See Irish Times article