Engineers at Tufts University hope that this sensor will help scientists better understand the link between diet and health

Researchers have created a 2x2mm sensor that adheres to the teeth and can detect salt, glucose and alcohol from the food you consume to help monitor your intake, communicating the information wirelessly to a smartphone. The creators believe that in the future, these sensors will even be able to detect an expansive variety of nutrients and chemicals.

Although similar technology currently exists, the Tufts University engineers behind the device wanted to create something that was easily adoptable and barely noticeable. They hoped that creating a tiny sensor that can latch onto a tooth might be an effective way to collect dietary information.

The sensors comprise three layers: an inner one that absorbs any nutrients or chemicals for detection and two outer ones that consist of gold square-shaped rings. Working in conjunction, these layers function like an antenna that receives and transmits radio waves. The sensor changes based on what the central layer takes in, absorbing and transmitting different spectra of radio frequency waves that indicate which nutrients the tooth cam in contact with.

“In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals—we are really limited only by our creativity,” said Fiorenzo Omenetto, Ph.D., corresponding author and the Frank C. Doble Professor of Engineering at Tufts. “We have extended common RFID [radiofrequency ID] technology to a sensor package that can dynamically read and transmit information on its environment, whether it is affixed to a tooth, to skin or any other surface.”

The research team believes that this tooth sensor will be able to help current and future medical studies. It's clear that the intake of certain food and liquids directly informs our health. This technology may help make direct correlations that we could not have definitively proved before.

Tufts University School of Engineering

Researchers have created a 2x2mm sensor that adheres to the teeth and can detect salt, glucose and alcohol from the food you consume to help monitor your intake, communicating the information wirelessly to a smartphone. The creators believe that in the future, these sensors will even be able to detect an expansive variety of nutrients and chemicals.

Although similar technology currently exists, the Tufts University engineers behind the device wanted to create something that was easily adoptable and barely noticeable. They hoped that creating a tiny sensor that can latch onto a tooth might be an effective way to collect dietary information.