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Near-infrared imaging of demineralization on the occlusal surfaces of teeth without the interference of stains


Most new caries lesions are found in the pits and fissures of the occlusal surface. Radiographs have extremely low sensitivity for early occlusal decay, and by the time the lesion is severe enough to appear on a radiograph, it typically has penetrated well into the dentin and surgical intervention is required. The occlusal surfaces are often heavily stained, and visual and tactile detection have poor sensitivity and specificity. Previous near-infrared imaging studies at wavelengths beyond 1300 nm have demonstrated that stains are not visible and demineralization on the occlusal surfaces can be viewed without interference from stains. The objective of our study is to determine how the contrast between sound and lesion areas on occlusal surfaces varies with wavelength from the visible to 2350 nm and determine to what degree stains interfere with that contrast. The lesion contrast for reflectance is measured in 55 extracted teeth with suspected occlusal lesions from 400 to 2350 nm employing silicon and indium gallium arsenide imaging arrays. In addition, the lesion contrast is measured on 25 extracted teeth with suspected occlusal lesions from 400 to 1600 nm in reflectance and from 830 to 1400 nm in transillumination before and after stains are removed using a ultrasonic scaler. The highest lesion contrast in reflectance is measured at wavelengths >1700  nm. Stains interfere significantly at wavelengths <1150  nm (400 to 1150) for both reflectance and transillumination measurements. Our study suggests that the optimum wavelengths for imaging decay in the occlusal surfaces are >1700  nm for reflectance (1700 to 2350 nm) and near 1300 nm (1250 to 1350 nm) for transillumination.

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