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Automated assessment of the remineralization of artificial enamel lesions with polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography


Accurate measurement of the highly mineralized transparent surface layer that forms on caries lesions is important for diagnosis of the lesion activity because chemical intervention can slow or reverse the caries process via remineralization. Previous in-vitro and in-vivo studies have demonstrated that polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) can nondestructively image the subsurface lesion structure and the highly mineralized transparent surface zone of caries lesions. The purpose of this study was to develop an approach to automatically process 3-dimensional PS-OCT images and to accurately assess the remineralization process in simulated enamel lesions. Artificial enamel lesions were prepared on twenty bovine enamel blocks using two models to produce varying degree of demineralization and remineralization. The thickness of the transparent surface layer and the integrated reflectivity of the subsurface lesion were measured using PS-OCT. The automated transparent surface layer detection algorithm was able to successfully detect the transparent surface layers with high sensitivity ( = 0.92) and high specificity ( = 0.97). The estimated thickness of the transparent surface layer showed a strong correlation with polarized light microscopy (PLM) measurements of all regions (R(2) = 0.90). The integrated reflectivity, ΔR, and the integrated mineral loss, ΔZ, showed a moderate correlation (R(2) = 0.32). This study demonstrates that PS-OCT can automatically measure the changes in artificial enamel lesion structure and severity upon exposure to remineralization solutions.

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