There seems to be a trend for connected devices with everything from water bottles to fitness trackers reporting your activities to a Bluetooth enabled smartphone so it was a foregone conclusion that this would soon reach the realm of orthodontics. I read an interesting article this morning about ongoing work to develop a smart retainer that records your wear time for logging on an app and onward transmission to your orthodontist. Whilst still very much in the development phase, I started thinking about this technology from a patients point of view and in particular, would I want a retainer that tracked it’s wear time so that I and my orthodontist could monitor progress?

Let me start by saying that yes, I probably would.  I track my fitness via my watch so already buy into the concept of smart connected devices and being able to view my wear time and strive for better results next week would be something I would get used to very quickly.  Would I be happy for this data to be shared with my orthodontist, again yes, I think we have built up a great working relationship over the last couple of years and can see no reason why I would wish to hide my compliance even if it meant showing that I occasionally fell short of the prescribed wear time.

But what about patients who were not quite so compliant?  I remember having a chat with someone a few months ago about their son’s treatment with twin blocks and them admitting to me that he did not wear the appliance during the day but that when questioned by their orthodontist about wear time, stated that their son was wearing the twin block as prescribed.  Would embedding this technology in the appliance improve wear time and help the orthodontist track progress?  Yes of course it would and in doing so, would probably make a parents job considerably easier with providing encouragement and improved trust between them, their children and the orthodontist.

The only thing I am slightly uncomfortable about is the battery being embedded in the appliance.  Maybe I’m old school but the thought of something going wrong and any potential leak occurring overnight is quite a worry and one that I’m sure the development team are well aware of.  I’m sure clinical trials will soon follow and I look forward to reading the results but I’m almost certain this will prove to be a useful way forward.

For more details of the work, click here