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Bluetooth-Enabled Retainer May Improve Patient Compliance

Bluetooth Enabled Retainer May Improve Patient Compliance A retainer that collects data on patient usage is no longer a hypothetical—it is a prototype. Researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry have announced an innovative retainer

Bluetooth-Enabled Retainer May Improve Patient Compliance

A retainer that collects data on patient usage is no longer a hypothetical—it is a prototype. Researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry have announced an innovative retainer that features Bluetooth technology to determine patients’ real-time use of orthodontic appliances. This innovation, called the SmartByte, is the first retainer designed to track patient daily use, with the ultimate goal of improving treatment outcomes.

Developed out of the frustration caused by patient noncompliance with retainer use, the SmartByte is designed to overcome this obstacle. When retainers are not worn—especially in the crucial months after braces are removed—the teeth may continue to move, possibly leading to the need for retreatment. Retainer use is typically recommended for a minimum of 6 months post-orthodontic treatment.

UCSF researchers say the unique inclusion of a Bluetooth chip into the retainer will enable clinicians and parents to view the amount of time a retainer is worn. Data will be viewable via a custom app for iOS, Android, and Windows phones and tablets. While there have been other attempts to develop retainers that track patient usage, the researchers note, this is the first product that doesn’t require an orthodontist office-based docking station. The ability to track everyday use, with the opportunity to help noncompliant patients establish good habits early on, makes the SmartByte an exciting development.

Researchers at UCSF explain the SmartByte retainer contains a sensor that can determine temperature—body or room. The temperature helps determine how often the device is being worn. Data then ping to the chosen data-sharing platform, and the corresponding app tracks progress, awards virtual prizes, and offers other incentives and rewards when goals are met. Pilot trials are slated to begin in early 2016, with large-scale trials expected to take place by 2018.

Hygiene Connection E-Newsletter

January 2016

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