A back­up for the teeth

Den­ton Sys­tems offers com­pre­hen­si­ve digi­tal pre­ven­ti­on for our den­ti­ti­on as well as our over­all health

Whe­ther one’s tal­king about image files, mails or Whats­App chat his­to­ries, most of us now tend to back up all our data in a cloud or on exter­nal data car­ri­ers thanks to auto­ma­ted remin­ders. This means that, in the event of a loss, important work docu­ments or pho­to memo­ries from that last holi­day won’t go miss­ing. Why don’t we do the same for our bodies? And espe­ci­al­ly for one part of the body - our tee­th – sin­ce res­to­ring them to their ori­gi­nal sta­te can have a major impact on our over­all health?

The Pots­­dam-based and Media­Tech Hub Acce­le­ra­tor start-up Den­ton Sys­tems has addres­sed the issue of den­ti­stry and is working tog­e­ther with den­tists to offer a sophisti­ca­ted back­up sys­tem for our den­ti­ti­on. “We want to turn the rather defect-ori­en­­ted den­ti­stry into a lifel­ong pre­ven­ti­ve con­cept,” says Mari­us Lie­fold, one of the foun­ders and CEOs, when explai­ning the start-up’s long-term goal. Lie­fold and his co-foun­­der Den­nis Wag­ner are both medi­cal infor­ma­tics spe­cia­lists. They deve­lo­ped Den­ton Sys­tems with a small and high­ly skil­led team, inclu­ding den­tists and den­tal tech­ni­ci­ans, in order to inte­gra­te it across the board into the ran­ge of den­tal ser­vices. Our den­ti­ti­on is pre­ser­ved in its ori­gi­nal sta­te after a three-dimen­­sio­nal scan and mea­su­re­ments being taken - “a paten­ted pro­ce­du­re to free­ze the den­ti­ti­on” is how the foun­ders descri­be it.

Fewer hea­da­ches and back pains with bet­ter den­tal health

This is important for seve­ral reasons: we all know that healt­hy tee­th are bene­fi­ci­al. But it’s not only caries that has an impact. Many peo­p­le uncon­scious­ly grind or clench their tee­th. Our tooth ena­mel is the har­dest mate­ri­al in the body and is rough­ly equi­va­lent to the hard­ness of gra­ni­te - but once it is des­troy­ed (by caries, abra­si­on or due to acci­dents), it is irre­vo­ca­bly lost. Den­ti­stry then recon­s­tructs our den­ti­ti­on in an exten­si­ve cour­se of tre­at­ment wit­hout having infor­ma­ti­on about the ori­gi­nal sta­te. The den­tists can only work round to this point after many stages of tre­at­ment. This cos­ts money, time and, in the worst case, more pain. Sin­ce the cont­act points and tra­jec­to­ries of the tee­th only rare­ly match our ori­gi­nal den­ti­ti­on despi­te tre­at­ment, this can have an impact on our bodies. Migrai­nes, hea­da­ches and back pain often have their ori­gin in jaw joints – cul­mi­na­ting in so-cal­­led Cra­nio­man­di­bu­lar Dys­func­tion. The dys­func­tion is trea­ted by den­tists working tog­e­ther with phy­sio­the­ra­pists. It’s a help if ever­y­bo­dy can refer back to the ori­gi­nal sta­te in real time.

“Doc­tors or phy­sio­the­ra­pists wel­co­me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have access to such data. Every kind of care can only impro­ve if all the infor­ma­ti­on is available,” says Lie­fold. To be able to do this, the start-up takes data - eit­her from the plas­ter model or an intra­oral scan­ner - marks and refe­ren­ces it until a three-dimen­­sio­nal refe­rence body has been crea­ted which can be acces­sed at any time via the Den­ton Cloud. Tooth shape, colour, posi­ti­on and jaw posi­ti­on can thus be repro­du­ced – the only pro­ce­du­re exis­ting world-wide until now.

Crea­ting a three-dimen­­sio­nal model of our den­ti­ti­on means that we now have a back­up. That’s why Den­ton Sys­tems has set its­elf the goal of inte­gra­ting con­sul­ta­ti­ons with den­tists and recom­mends that pati­ents have refe­ren­cing done every three to five years. That will ensu­re that chan­ges can be detec­ted at an ear­ly stage and future inten­si­ve and expen­si­ve tre­at­ment can thus be avo­ided. The youn­ger the den­ti­ti­on, the easier it can be saved in its ori­gi­nal sta­te. But it is also wort­hwhile doing at a later age. Even wea­rers of den­tures save time sin­ce an accu­ra­te tem­p­la­te means that work can be done with grea­ter pre­cis­i­on and lifel­ong chan­ges can be detec­ted at an ear­ly stage.

The gap in docu­men­ta­ti­on about pati­ents can be clo­sed digitally

The ori­gi­nal sta­tus can be retrie­ved from the cloud on any end device. “It’s important to us that the pati­ents have data sove­reig­n­ty,” CTO Den­nis Wag­ner adds. To this end, a secu­ri­­ty-cer­­ti­­fied ser­ver for health data has been instal­led and is based in Ger­ma­ny. Apart from the den­tal scans, pati­ents can also upload other docu­ments such as X-rays, dia­gno­ses or MRIs - just like in a Drop­box – so that they can access them at any time from any­whe­re on the glo­be. So. if you should lose your front tee­th in an acci­dent during a ski­ing holi­day, your own tee­th could be exact­ly recon­s­truc­ted whilst you are still at the ski resort. The focus is on the pati­ents, a gap in their docu­men­ta­ti­on is clo­sed, thus sim­pli­fy­ing the exch­an­ge bet­ween the various medi­cal disci­pli­nes. And unneces­sa­ry expo­sure to radia­ti­on from dupli­ca­te X-ray exami­na­ti­ons can thus be avoided.

The fact the ser­vice is rea­di­ly accept­ed had alre­a­dy been shown by a mar­ket sur­vey pri­or to the launch as well as a test­ing peri­od in den­ti­stry. In addi­ti­on, the long-term digi­tal docu­men­ta­ti­on of tooth and jaw posi­ti­ons is also par­ti­cu­lar­ly inte­res­t­ing for rese­arch pur­po­ses. Data coll­ec­tion and coope­ra­ti­ve ven­tures are now plan­ned for the future.

About MTH Blog

The media technologies of the future are already being used today – not only in the entertainment sector, but also in a wide variety of industries. Christine Lentz meets up with tech enthusiasts, established companies and researchers for our monthly MediaTech Hub Potsdam blog to tell the stories behind the innovative business models.