January 16, 2021

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HKU researchers develop personalised 3D-printed mouthguard device

With an aim to improve the oral hygiene for elderly people and people with disabilities or dysphagia, so as to boost their confidence to enjoy speaking and smiling, as well as a pleasure to enjoy eating, the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Hong Kong has initiated a project called “Plaque cleaning apparatus using dental acrylic 3-D printing technique by micro-mist injection for elderly and disabled” to help the groups clean their oral cavity safely and effectively.

The Project is supported with a grant from the Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living (“FBL”) under the Innovation and Technology Bureau. Under the project, a novel apparatus adopting micro-scale mist to remove plaque in the oral cavity has been designed and developed.

A personalised 3D-printed mouth guard device that contains an air and water channel for cleaning the tooth plaque with a minimal amount of water is connected to the micro-scale mist apparatus. With this technology, the oral hygiene of the user can be improved with minimal risk of bacterial infection and aspiration caused by rinsing.

In view of the ageing population in Hong Kong, oral hygiene maintenance of elderly people is becoming an essential issue. Improvement of oral hygiene encourages social participation of elderly people and leads to better physical and psychological health, and thus enhances their quality of life.

The project will be rolled out in the fourth quarter of 2020. A prototype of the mouthpiece device with micro-scale mist injection function has been developed. The clinical trial will be conducted soon. Data and feedback collected will serve to identify future directions for improving this new device. The Faculty of Dentistry hopes this new initiative will benefit elderly and disabled people in the community.

About the Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living

The Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living (“FBL”) is a scheme for funding innovation and technology (I&T) projects which will make people’s daily living more convenient, comfortable and safer, or address the needs of specific community groups. The FBL with a funding size of HK$500 million is expected to operate for 5 years with effect from 2017.

FBL Overview

Main features

  • Projects should be able to benefit the public at large or specific groups and should be in line with government policies
  • Projects should involve the innovative application of technologies
  • Project themes include daily living, education, environment, health, safety, transport, etc. which can benefit the community
  • Project deliverables can be in the form of mobile apps, products, devices, equipment, tools, services, software, or any other forms with valid justifications
  • Project deliverables should be developed and rolled out within 12 months, and run for at least two consecutive years after roll-out (except for projects that are one-off in nature)
  • An approved project will receive a grant up to 90% of the total eligible costs of the project or HK$5 million, whichever is the less
  • Projects should not be profit-making during the funding period
  • Projects should primarily be developed within Hong Kong