University of Otago and UK researchers have developed a world-first weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic.
DentalSlim Diet Control is an intra-oral device fitted by a dental professional to the upper and lower back teeth. It uses magnetic devices with unique custom-manufactured locking bolts. It allows the wearer to open their mouths only about 2mm, restricting them to a liquid diet, but it allows free speech and doesn’t restrict breathing.
Participants in a Dunedin-based trial lost an average of 6.36kg in two weeks and were motivated to continue with their weight loss journey.
Lead researcher, University of Otago Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton says the device will be an effective, safe, and affordable tool for people battling obesity. It is fitted by a dentist, can be released by the user in the case of an emergency and can be repeatedly fitted and removed.
“The main barrier for people for successful weight loss is compliance and this helps them establish new habits, allowing them to comply with a low-calorie diet for a period of time. It really kick-starts the process,” Professor Brunton says.
“It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures.
“The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.”
The practice of surgically wiring people’s jaws shut became popular in the 1980s, but it came with risks; vomiting brought with it the risk of choking and after 9 to 12 months the patients developed gum disease. In some cases, there were continuing issues with restriction of jaw movement and some developed acute psychiatric conditions.
“Alternative strategies are required which may obviate surgery, or which reduce weight prior to surgery and so make it easier and safer.
Patients are given a tool to open the device in an emergency, but none of the study participants needed to use it. While they all described the device as tolerable, the design has since been improved, making it smaller to improve functional comfort and aesthetics.