What is your idea?
We have developed a wearable device to measure and monitor bruxism, or teeth grinding at night, and allow dental specialists to design personalised treatment programmes for patients.
What problem are you solving and what is innovative about your approach?
Many of us – at least 20% of the population - grind our teeth at night without even realising it – and for around 5% of the population, chronic night grinding can wear down and damage teeth and lead to facial pain. The forces exerted on teeth due to bruxism can be the equivalent of a large rugby player standing on a molar.
If diagnosed with bruxism, patients can currently wear a night-guard splint or mouthpiece to protect teeth or facial muscles from further damage, and the patient often needs prolonged and expensive restorative dentistry to repair the damage.
While strides have been made to tackle the dental issues of caries and gum disease, bruxism remains a difficult area to treat because measurements of the activity are not easily captured. Until now, that is.
SmartSplint is a wearable splint device that uses inbuilt sensors to measure the forces being exerted on teeth during grinding and where those forces are being applied.
The information that SmartSplint provides about where, when and how teeth are affected by grinding will enable dentists to plan and discuss personalised treatments with patients.
What’s the backstory here and how did you get involved?
The SmartSplint was invented by dental researcher Dr Pádraig McAuliffe at Trinity College Dublin.
Its research, development and validation to date have received support from Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund.
SelfSense Technologies spun out of Trinity to bring SmartSplint to market. I have worked extensively in the life sciences industry with a strong emphasis on innovation and new product development. I met SelfSense when they took part in the NDRC Venture Lab programme, where I worked with them initially as a mentor and became CEO.
How is this idea commercially attractive?
At present, around 10 million regular splints are made in the EU and US every year, at a cost to patients of about $4 billion.
The SmartSplint device is a consumable product: the splint that patients wear to gather the data. Then the dataset is uploaded to the cloud where it can be analysed using proprietary algorithms, which we will provide as a service.
Between the consumable product, the data analysis and the database of information that we can gather using the device, we believe there is a $100-million market for SmartSplint, and that it offers a very strong platform to explore partnerships.
What are you looking for at the Big Ideas event?
We expect to get a CE mark in the first half of 2016, so we are looking to raise funds to support us in that aim and to allow us to get into our first patient usages.