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Bluetooth-enabled ‘Smart’ Retainer Keeps 'Em Honest

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In a way, I feel bad for future orthodontics patients. Their parents will likely know when they’re not wearing their retainer, or when they remove their retainer in their sleep and throw it behind their bed with no recollection of how it got there in the morning. (I can’t be the only one who did that.)

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry are developing a Bluetooth smart retainer for orthodontics patients. The SmartByte enables orthodontists and parents to determine the amount of time the patient is wearing their retainer. The retainer will be part of a package that includes a custom app for iOS, Android, and Windows phones and tablets. So in between watching Netflix and surfing the web, parents can check in on their child’s orthodontic progress. 

Here’s how it works: A sensor placed inside the retainer that can differentiate between body temperature and room temperature to determine if the device is being worn.  The information is collected on a cloud database and then shared on the patient’s phone and orthodontist’s computer. The package even includes an app that rewards patients with prizes when they reach goals for retainer use.

SmartByte is currently in the design phase, but a small pilot trial is expected to start in the coming months with a larger trial slated to begin in the next 2 years.  

According to statistics shared by the school, up to 70% of patients and their parents forget the necessity of wearing a retainer, while wear time is overestimated by a third of actual time. To learn more about SmartByte, click here

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