Scientists at Princeton and Tufts are working on a superthin tooth sensor (a kind of temporary tattoo) that sends an alert when it detects bacteria associated with plaque buildup, cavities or infection. It could also notify your dentist, adding an extra layer of social pressure to make an appointment. The sensor may have wide-ranging use: the researchers have already used it to identify bacteria in saliva associated with stomach ulcers and cancers. While the sensor won’t last long on the surface of a well-brushed and flossed tooth, Michael McAlpine, the project’s leader, says that the sensors will be inexpensive enough that you can replace them daily.http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/06/03/magazine/innovations-issue.html
I like to imagine the world where, after brushing and flossing (and sometimes using a whitening strip) every day, people will take the time to stick little sensors on their teeth . . . but I'm pretty sure the people who are going to make the effort to use this device won't have as many cavities or infections anyway. It's interesting to brianstorm about other ways that temporary tooth tattoos might be useful.