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Can a Smartphone Device Tell You How Healthy Your Mouth Is?

A new device called "Mint" is taking the ‘breath-check’ to a new level. With the Mint device, Gone are the days of trying in vain to smell your own breath by breathing into your cupped hand. The device allows you to check your breath by breathing into a wireless plastic meter that connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone, delivering your results to via app. The device is not only useful for hygienic purposes, but according to manufacturers Breathometer and Philips Sonicare, the device could also save your life. Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, NC discusses this groundbreaking new technology.

When Charles Michael Yim appeared on the television show "Shark Tank" in 2013 to introduce his "Breathometer" breathalyzer device, little did he know he’d make history by securing not only an investment by all five ‘sharks’- but the first million-dollar investment in the show’s history. Yim’s original product, the Breathometer device is a personal breathalyzer device which connects to your smartphone and delivers an accurate blood/alcohol reading via a coordinating app. Mint is the company’s newest venture- designed not just to detect bad breath, but to also give an "oral report card" which scores your oral health based on the readings from your breath. Scores range from A to F, with A being excellent breath, and F being breath so bad it could be a sign of serious problems.

It is through this grading system that the Mint device may even be able to save your life. Per the manufacturer, the Mint app determines your grade by measuring the level of "volatile Sulfur compounds" in your breath. According to Simpson, the device measures Sulphur compounds because these particular compounds can act as little ‘red flags’ for your oral health. Says Simpson, "Although the presence of some Sulfur in your breath is normal, it can also be a precursor to serious conditions like periodontitis, and even oral cancer." Of course, an occasional low score on your Mint device is okay, especially if you’ve recently had a meal with a lot of garlic, for example. But the regular presence of an F or even a C or below average in an otherwise clean mouth could mean big problems and may mean it’s time to see a dentist.

Speaking of dentists, what do they think of this new device? Can smart devices like the Mint really make a difference in your oral health? Simpson thinks so. "When used regularly, the mint can give you a good idea of the overall health of your mouth. If you are consistently getting a low grade each time you test, you could just have bad breath or poor brushing technique- but it could be something more serious." Hopefully, a low score will motivate users to see their dentist to rule out any serious conditions and possibly get some guidance on proper brushing. As for patients who consistently score in the A-B range, Simpson says to keep up the good work- but don’t allow a high score to act as a substitute for regular dental exams. After all, says Simpson "The Mint cannot detect cavities, give X-rays, or provide a deep cleaning, so it definitely won’t replace your dentist. But I suspect if patients place enough of a priority on their oral health to invest in this device, they probably already know the importance of regular dental checkups."

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959