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RFID to Track Dentures at Nursing Homes

Nobilium's solution, from Syrma Technology, provides an automatic-identification method for nursing homes and hospitals in the form of a passive HF or NFC tag built into the dentures, to link a patient's ID with the false teeth as they are cleaned or maintained.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 27, 2017

Dental prosthetics maker Nobilium is providing an RFID-enabled denture identification system aimed at helping nursing facilities to meet regulatory standards for denture care, while also ensuring that false teeth are never inadvertently given to the wrong patient. With RFID technology from Syrma Technology embedded in the rear gum area on a denture, Nobilium explains, the false teeth can be identified from the point of manufacture, and then at nursing homes where caregivers can link them with the correct patient.

The RFID-enabled dentures have been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be available for users commercially during the coming months, following Nobilium's internal testing. The solution consists of a tag that accommodates one of two possible high frequencies: 13.56 MHz RFID chips compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, or Near Field Communication (NFC) chips—also operating at that same frequency—compliant with ISO 14443. Both the HF and NFC tags can be interrogated using a Syrma RFID reader connected to a computer with a USB port, or via an NFC-enabled smartphone.

Historically, identifying dentures at nursing homes and hospitals has proved challenging, though essential. Nursing home personnel clean the false teeth, then return them to the proper patients, but there is always a risk that the dentures could end up missing or be returned to the wrong individuals. Additionally, dentures are frequently found on lunch trays and in bed sheets.

"Dentures are lost on a regular basis," says Devon Howe, Nobilium's president and CEO, "and this is a big problem in nursing homes and hospitals." The issue is severe enough, he adds, that 27 U.S. states have enabled laws to insure that every set of dentures is identified with the correct patient's name or some other unique ID.

Compliance with these regulations may be spotty, however, according to anecdotal information Howe has heard—and there are good reasons for that, he notes. Labelling dentures invades the privacy of a patient, for one thing. "Patients don't want their names on their denture," Howe says, simply because it can be embarrassing for others to learn that they have false teeth. In addition, he says, indelibly adding patient names onto dentures at the manufacturing lab requires the added cost of labor, and dental laboratories charge an extra fee for this service in many cases. This is an expense that dentists who fit the dentures to patients would need to pay or pass on to the patient.

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