Tooth Sensor for Anti-Dentites

I get that the world is full of anti-dentites and general dentist avoiders, but I think this may be taking things a little too far.

Michael McAlpine and his Princeton University research team are designing an oral health monitor, in the form of a graphene sensor tattooed on a back molar, that will alert individuals when certain bacteria is found to be present.

In theory, this is a great idea. Oral health is not a top priority for many individuals, and those with periodontal disease can develop coronary artery diseases, which can lead to a stroke. In fact, oral health has been linked to other “body diseases,” like chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, women with periodontal bacteria are more likely to have bone loss in the oral cavity (osteoporosis), and pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be more likely to have complications during their pregnancy. So, in short, oral health is actually a pretty big deal.

This is why the sensor is concerning. If many individuals are unconcerned with their oral health to begin with, then those who happen to receive the sensor might believe that they never again have to visit the dentist unless their sensor tells them that they have a problem. The best way to use a dentist is through preventative care, so once there’s already a problem, it may be too late.

Also, how will the sensor work with abrasive materials? If you are brushing your teeth at least once per day, then your sensor could be ground away by your toothpaste and the bristles of your toothbrush, not to mention any acidic food or drinks that you might consume. Speaking of acid, how will the graphene interact with bile, soda, gum and sugar?

Lastly, and I know how paranoid this is going to sound, but if the point of this sensor is to transmit data about your body, how limited is that information? I assume that each individual sensor will have a serial number and identification, to which you will be linked, so who will be receiving that information? How can individuals be sure that only oral health factors are being transmitted? Last time I checked, hacking was still happening, as was governmental issues, so who really will know about you?

I think you should just “man up” and see your dentist.