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High-Tech Mouth Guard May Monitor Your Health and Fitness

First Posted: Sep 02, 2015 05:22 PM EDT

A high-tech mouth guard may be the new thing in fitness. Scientists have developed a mouth guard that can monitor health markers, such as lactate, cortisol and uric acid, in saliva and transmit the information wirelessly to a smart phone, laptop or tablet.

The technology is at a proof-of-concept stage. However, it could be used to monitor patients continuously without invasive procedures. It could also be used to monitor athletes' performance or stress levels in soldiers and pilots.

"The ability to monitor continuously and non-invasively saliva biomarkers holds considerable promise for many biomedical and fitness applications," said Joseph Wang, one of the researchers, in a news release.

In this latest study, the researchers showed that the mouth guard sensor could offer an easy and reliable way to monitor uric acid levels. The mouth guard has been tested with human saliva, but hasn't yet been tested in a person's mouth.

So how is the sensor created? The screen-printed sensor is made using silver, Prussian blue ink and uricase, which is an enzyme that reacts with uric acid. Because saliva is extremely complex, the researchers needed to make sure that the sensors only reacted to the uric acid. In the end, the researchers successfully were able to monitor the chemicals in human saliva using the sensor.

Now, the next step is to embed electronics inside the mouth guard so that it can be worn and used in the field.

"All the components are there," said Wang. "It's just a matter of refining the device and working on its stability."

The findings are published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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