Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Researchers develop mouth guard for illuminating early signs of cavities

GUANGZHOU, China: One of the keys to controlling dental caries and periodontal disease is early detection of dental lesions and cavities. A novel mouth guard recently developed in China now promises to help make this easier for dentists by visually highlighting certain compounds released by bacteria that are harmful to oral health.

The fluorescent mouth guard, made from a zinc oxide–polydimethylsiloxane nanocomposite, was created by a team of biomedical engineers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. In a recently published study, it was found to have a highly attuned and selective ability to detect the secretion of volatile sulphur compounds in oral cavities—a common sign of dental lesions.

According to the study, when the mouth guard was worn by an individual for 7 hours, its fluorescence notably diminished in areas where early signs of caries were able to be detected after further image analysis. The mouth guard was also found to exhibit high fluorescent stability as well as good levels of biocompatibility when in situ.

Dr Jianhua Zhou, professor of biomedical engineering at Sun Yat-sen University and lead author of the study, told Dental Tribune International that the mouth guard could be worn prior to a dental check-up and might be commercially available by 2021.

“We are now working with a company that is helping to accelerate the mouth guard’s time to market,” he said. “It will take at least one year if everything goes well.”

“We are also now conducting more clinical trials to further evaluate the accuracy of the mouth guard,” Zhou added.

The study, titled “A transparent, wearable fluorescent mouthguard for high-sensitive visualization and accurate localization of hidden dental lesion sites”, was published online on 2 April 2020 in Advanced Materials, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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