Making it Work: Dental start-up SelfSense to launch smart mouthguard with help of €1m funding round

TCD spin-out aims to improve treatment of teeth grinding, a condition that affects a billion people worldwide

20th June, 2021
Making it Work: Dental start-up SelfSense to launch smart mouthguard with help of €1m funding round
Padraig McAuliffe, co-founder of SelfSense Technologies, with SmartSplint, the company’s intelligent mouthguard. Picture: Alan Place

An Irish company seeking to change the way teeth grinding is assessed and treated is planning to close a €1 million funding round in the coming weeks.

The Series A investment will fund SelfSense Technologies’ continued expansion as it plans to launch its intelligent mouthguards onto the market in Ireland and Europe by autumn.

The business will double its workforce with about seven new hires over the coming year, mostly in the areas of device design and software development.

SelfSense, which spun out of Trinity College Dublin in 2015, makes intelligent mouthguards designed to address the lack of clinical data on bruxism, or teeth grinding, an issue that affects a billion people around the world.

Bruxism, which can cause cracking, splintering or wear and tear to people’s teeth, is the third most common dental problem globally after gum disease and tooth decay.

Dr Padraig McAuliffe, a qualified dentist and one of the four founders of the company, said that, until recently, “there wasn’t any clinically applicable data or technology that would give us information on how to treat it”.

SelfSense’s mouthguards are built with technology that records when, where and how intensely people are grinding their teeth, and sends this information to an app and to the dentist.

This will allow dentists to better manage bruxism patients, and to tailor their treatment to the point where the patients can wear the mouthguard at certain times or around certain life events associated with increased grinding.

The Enterprise Ireland-backed business is also developing an app that allows patients to track their grinding against different variables in their life to give them a better picture of the lifestyle triggers that could be causing the issue.

McAuliffe, from Castleisland, Co Kerry, said dentists currently “don’t have the data” to effectively treat grinding.

While SelfSense’s SmartSplint is an improvement on the mouthguards previously on the market, the 41-year-old said there was a paucity of options in terms of actual products tailored to treat the condition.

For large dental companies, the lack of clinical data means bruxism is a high-risk area from a commercial perspective. In the coming years, SelfSense plans to use the data it has amassed over four years of working with patients to help address this issue.

“We have some of the longest continuous recordings of tooth grinding in the world,” McAuliffe said. “The long-term vision is to use that leadership position in terms of understanding the data, and then to work with large companies collaborating with our datasets on their products, and potentially developing products of our own.”

“There is an industry of products in the bruxism area waiting to be built. And the data required to do that is what we provide.”

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