Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 08, 2000

Device developed by U of G researchers may help stop teeth grinding

Millions of Canadians who suffer from teeth grinding during sleep may one day find relief through a new device developed by University of Guelph students and researchers.

The device, called Acrobyte, fits over the teeth and measures mouth forces produced during nightly teeth grinding. Acrobyte has pressure-activated sensors that send digital signals to a computer program, which records activity. The researchers say the device is superior to other diagnostic methods, and they hope it may one day be used in sleep labs to help determine at what stage of sleep teeth grinding or bruxism is triggered.

About one-quarter of all dental patients are diagnosed with bruxism, which can generate forces so strong that the teeth get worn down to the nerves. Sufferers often wake up with headaches and pain in their jaws. "Think of circus performers hanging by their mouths from a trapeze -- that's how much pressure can be generated by bruxing," said engineering student Shellie Boudreau, who designed the device with fellow students Nicole Lauwaert and Zeynin Juna, in collaboration with engineering professor John Runciman. Local dentist Don Cohen and Gerry Hollinger, a Guelph respirologist who suffers from bruxism, are also working on the project, with Hollinger volunteering as the first research subject.

Currently, forces created during bruxism are predicted using electrical activity in the jaw muscles. This involves sticking electrodes to the skin over the jaw muscles, but is not very accurate because it is difficult for the machines to distinguish between all of the facial muscles, Lauwaert said. "For example, these machines cannot distinguish between talking and teeth grinding," she said. "This means the measurement might be inaccurate." In addition, bruxism patients are typically outfitted with a special mouthguard that's bulky and uncomfortable and does not fix the problem permanently. "We would like to see our information put towards designing a more effective mouthguard," Lauwaert said.

Prof. John Runciman, School of Engineering, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3072,

Dr. Don Cohen, (519) 824-4700

Shellie Boudreau,

Nicole Lauwaert,

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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