Researchers in the United Kindom and New Zealand have developed a unique alternative to bariatric surgery—invasive medical procedures performed for weight loss purposes—with an oral magnetic locking device that limits how far the wearer can open their mouths and, in turn, the type of foods they can eat.
One of the most important skills to learn for effective long-term weight loss is a proper diet, including smaller portions. Procedures like gastric bypass surgery make this easier by physically shrinking the size of a patient’s stomach, limiting how much they can eat at every meal. But it’s an invasive procedure that comes with the same risks as any procedure that requires a patient to undergo anesthesia. It’s also expensive, often costing tens of thousands of dollars, and it’s just as complicated and expensive to reverse.
Decades ago a procedure that involved physically wiring a patient’s jaws shut was a popular alternative for weight loss, but it was permanent and came with its own challenges, including limitations on proper oral hygiene. The DentalSlim Diet Control functions in a similar manner, but less permanently. It uses magnets to power a temporary locking device that limits the wearer to opening their mouths just two millimeters, restricting them to a liquid diet without inhibiting speech or breathing in the process.
The DentalSlim is attached to the wearer’s molars by a dentist using orthodontic cement so it will never accidentally fall out, but the magnetic locking mechanism it uses means it can also be occasionally disengaged and the wearer’s dietary restrictions can be temporarily relaxed. Every patient with the DentalSlim installed also carries a special tool so the device can be quickly unlocked in an emergency. (Imagine dealing with the common side effects of a night spent bar hopping if you can only open your mouth two millimeters.)
In a trial of the device that was detailed in a study published in the British Dental Journal, seven healthy, obese patients were fitted with the device and spent 14 days following a strict low-calorie liquid diet. On average they lost a little over 14 pounds using the DentalSlim, which is impressive, but such results also require a strict adherence to the type of liquids being consumed. Sipping milkshakes for two weeks straight won’t produce similar results, but if you’re going to the trouble of having a device like the DentalSlim installed, you’re ideally committed to what’s needed to make it an effective weight loss tool.