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Electric shocks stop people grinding their teeth

An engineer and a pain and muscle researcher pooled their knowledge to create a product that helps bruxism (teeth grinding) and provides a restful night's sleep.

2018.06.14 | Henriette Stevnhøj

It looks like a butterfly made of plastic and is placed on the temples before sending electricity to the jaw when the muscles tighten. This stops people from grinding their teeth.

Professor Peter Svensson has conducted research into bruxism and used his knowledge to contribute to the development of Grindcare.

MSc in Engineering and PhD Faramarz Jadidi developed Grindcare, which reduces bruxism with small electric shocks. Today, a fourth generation of the product is available. The first versions were larger devices with cables and electrodes that were fastened to the head.

In 1996, Professor Peter Svensson from the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, who at that time was employed at the Centre for Sensory-Motor Interaction (SMI) at Aalborg University, was approached by the young engineering student Faramarz Jadidi. He was working on his final project in biomedical technology at Aarhus University School of Engineering and had an idea to reduce or even negate bruxism. Faramarz Jadidi’s theory was that if you could impact the muscles, then this could ease the tension that was the cause of teeth grinding or bruxism (as it is called in dentistry).

That meeting marked the beginning of a long-standing collaboration to develop and refine a product that combines engineering with musculoskeletal and pain research – and is an example turning knowledge into a product.

In its 2018 version, the product is in its fourth generation and has been named Grindcare. It can best be described as a stylized plump butterfly of plastic the size of a Danish five kroner coin. The plastic butterfly, which is a compact, wireless sensor, is placed on the temples at bedtime and monitors movements in the jaw muscle during sleep. The sensor detects when the jaw tightens and the teeth grind against one another and then gives very small electric shocks in return. The shocks stimulate the relaxing of the jaw muscles and over time the small shocks – bio-feedback – reduce the habit of teeth grinding, so that problems with headaches, muscle tension and not least worn teeth decrease and possibly disappear completely.

Curiosity drove the idea forward

According to Peter Svensson, head of the Section for Orofacial Pain and Jaw Function at Aarhus University, twenty years ago there was no treatment for bruxism.

"In the 1990s, we didn’t have much to offer apart from a bite plate that was modelled according to the person with bruxism. The plate reduced the wearing down of the teeth, but did not treat the real cause of the problem, so that was an area that had not been investigated," says Peter Svensson.

For MSc in Engineering and PhD Faramarz Jadidi, it was his curiosity about finding a solution to what was a problem for many people that led him to begin the project. He was friends with an odontology student who told him about the condition and how it led to dental problems and pain in the head, neck and shoulders for many people.

"I got the impression that this was a very well-known and widespread phenomenon that led to poor quality of life, but which nevertheless didn’t get much attention from the treatment system. I wanted to help change that," says Faramarz Jadidi, who is consultant and project manager at DIS/CREADIS. He is also working with the Respiratory Centre West at Aarhus University Hospital and the Danish Pain Research Center on an interdisciplinary research project about pain and sleep.

Development over time

Following his final project at Aarhus University School of Engineering, Faramarz Jadidi continued to develop a prototype that was in its first versions a larger device with long cables that the test subjects had coupled to their head before bedtime. During development the product was refined further and became a headband with electrodes.

But it did basically the same; detected the hyperactivity in the jaw muscles that leads to bruxism and treated it with small electric shocks.

The development of the prototype was done in a company started and run by Faramarz Jadidi during the first years with support from fellow students and an understanding wife. It was also at this time that the first major clinical studies were conducted together with Peter Svensson. All the while he learned more about bruxism and came to understand it better.

"We went from thinking of bruxism as a type of behaviour that should be prevented to thinking that it didn’t necessarily need treating unless the person was really being discomforted. Teeth grinding also has some benefits, such as stimulating the salivary glands so that the mucous membranes don’t dry out," says Peter Svensson, giving an example of the knowledge he picked up along the way.

The arm's length principle between research and business

Faramarz Jadidi has succeeded in finding investors along the way who could also see the perspectives in developing a product that could help the millions of people who grind their teeth all over the world. During the product development, Peter Svensson contributed with studies of biofeedback and input to product development. But he also made an early decision not to take part in the company as a co-owner or partner.

"I quickly realised that I didn't want to work with the commercial part of the project. I avoided a risk by doing this, but of course also the chance to take part in a business adventure. But it felt like the right thing to do back then and that’s still how I feel now. I’m too bitten by the academic side of things to be interested in the business-side of a company that have to do with sales and growth," says Peter Svensson, who acts as a consultant in the continued development of Grindcare which now takes place in the company that owns the rights today.

"I’m a member of an academic advisory board and contribute with input and knowledge which I’m paid for. We’ve conducted studies that have been sponsored by the company and when we publish the financing is transparent. Thus far I’ve been able to vouch for the product which has been marketed as a research-based medical product. But I’m mindful of how our knowledge is utilised," says Peter Svensson.

On the company website, Grindcare is presented as:

Hard to run a business

When the Japanese life science company Sunstar acquired Faramarz Jadidi’s original company, they only did so after long negotiations and what was not the happiest conclusion to a business adventure, explains Faramarz Jadidi.

"It’s impossible to run a company without investors who naturally enough also want to decide how the company should develop," says Faramarz Jadidi. But he does not regret selling his company.

"For me, having created a product that helps people who have a problem is important. That was my attitude from the beginning and it’s still how I feel today. I’m a researcher, not a director. My primary interest lies in helping other people, but combining research with product development has been exciting and instructive," says Faramarz Jadidi.

More about the product

  • Grindcare is sold as a medical device by the Japanese company Sunstar and it is recommended that Grindcare should be prescribed by a dentist. There are selected dealers in Denmark, as can be seen on the Grindcare website. According to the distributor of dental equipment, Grindcare costs DKK 3,995.
  • One of Peter Svensson's studies at the Department of Dentistry involving 14 patients showed a fifty per cent reduction in teeth grinding after two to three weeks’ use.
  • In 2009, Faramarz Jadidi received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Life Sciences category for his invention of the bio-feedback device to counteract bruxism. The award is made by Ernest & Young.

Grindcare measures the number of times you bite your teeth together, so that after sleeping you can see how much teeth grinding there has been during the night. With the fourth generation of Grindcare there is also an app so people can monitor the progress or decline of their teeth grinding on their smartphone.  


Professor Peter Svensson
Aarhus University, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health
Mobile: (+45) 2463 3009

Project Manager, MSc in Engineering, PhD Faramarz Jadidi
Dansk IngeniørService (DIS/CREADIS)/Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine
Mobile: (+45) 4172 7426 

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