Near-infrared imaging for detecting caries and structural deformities in teeth

K. Angelino, D. A. Edlund, P. Shah. Near-Infrared Imaging for Detecting Caries and Structural Deformities in Teeth. Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine (2017). PMID: 28507826


Two-dimensional radiographs, while commonly used for evaluating sub-surface hard structures of teeth, have low sensitivity for early caries lesions particularly those on tooth occlusal surfaces. Radiographs are also frequently refused by patients over safety concerns. Translucency of teeth in the nearinfrared (NIR) range offers a non-ionizing and safe approach to detect dental caries. We report construction of a NIR (850 nm) LED imaging system, comprised of a NIR source and an intraoral camera for rapid dental evaluations. The NIR system was used to image teeth of 10 consenting human subjects and successfully detected secondary, amalgam–occluded and early caries lesions without supplementary image processing. The camera-wand system was also capable of revealing demineralized areas, deep and superficial cracks, and other clinical features of teeth usually visualized by X-rays. The NIR system’s clinical utility, simplistic design, low cost and user friendliness makes it an effective dental caries screening technology in conjunction or in place of radiographs.

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