Wearable biosensor technologies such as smart watches, activity trackers, and glucose monitors can record the number of steps you take, your heart rate and sleep patterns, and your blood glucose levels. Since the mouth provides ready access to the oral cavity and the whole body, biodevices specifically developed to function within the oral cavity could take advantage of existing and new technologies to monitor many aspects of oral and overall health, detect and treat disease, and aid in clinical decision making. However, there are unique challenges to surmount for enabling the development of clinically useful oral biodevices. For example, an oral biodevice should be able to stick to wet tissues and be resilient to handle harsh and repetitive exposures to varying chewing forces, pH levels, temperatures, enzymes, and bacteria present in the mouth. Therefore, the goal of this initiative is to encourage transformative engineering solutions to challenges imposed by the oral environment to speed the translation of oral biodevices from the laboratory to the clinic.
Potential research areas include development of oral biodevices with ability for real-time measurements and secured wireless data transmission; improved power sources and computing software; ability to deliver drugs or other therapeutics in response to changes detectable in the oral environment; integration of oral biodevices with other mobile technologies; and improved durability, safety, and accuracy. Accelerating oral biodevice research is a key step in making precision medicine a reality, by empowering individuals and their healthcare providers with accurate health data to tailor individual treatment and prevention strategies for a wide variety of diseases and conditions affecting the mouth and the whole body.
RESEARCH INITIATIVESInitiatives are vehicles used by NIH Institutes and Centers to communicate future research goals to NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress. NIDCR begins the initiative development process each year by identifying broad research topic areas, or themes. We then develop a specific initiative proposal for each theme, taking into consideration the input received. Accelerating the Development of Oral Biodevices by Advancing Technologies is just one proposed research initiative coming out of NIDCR 2030, in response to public feedback we received. Please submit comments related to this initiative only. Initiatives in other topic areas will be posted for public comment once they are developed.
Please note: When identifying themes for potential funding initiatives, NIDCR takes many factors into account. These factors include: scientific opportunity, robustness of the existing portfolio in a particular theme area—both currently and in the year under consideration—and the current budgetary climate. Click here for more information on research initiatives.