Decorative tooth tattoos recently made a splash on the pop culture scene, but now a team of scientists is harnessing the trend for health and well being.

A research team of bioengineers from Princeton and Tufts have fashioned a prototype of a gold, tattoo-like sensor that will detect illness and infection before it becomes a problem. The wireless tattoo is made of ultra-thin layers gold, engineered peptides and an incredible material called graphene, which is able to sense and “grab” bacteria. The tiny tattoo is mounted on a strand of silk to provide support. When the tattoo is pressed onto the tooth, the silk dissolves, leaving the wireless sensor fixed in place.

“The mouth is a window to the rest of the body,” says Gerard Kugel, Associate Dean for Research at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. “You can spot a lot of potential health problems through saliva, and it’s a much less invasive way to do diagnostic tests than drawing blood.”

“A sensor like this could give you a panoramic view of what’s happening over a number of hours or even days,” continues Kugel. “If you could tell when bacteria levels are spiking, you could shape your course of treatment accordingly.”

These amazing little tattoos aren’t available yet, though. They currently have only been tested on cow teeth, which are much bigger and less sensitive than human teeth. The team is working to ensure the sensor will be practically undetectable by humans who choose to have one applied.

Here at A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe, we look forward to what technology will have to offer as it relates to our patients’ dental and overall health. We wish the research team above the very best.