Dental biothermophotonics: How photothermal methods are winning the race with X-rays for dental caries diagnostic needs of clinical dentistry

Research paper by A. Mandelis, R. Jeon, A. Matvienko, S. H. Abrams, B. T. Amaechi

Indexed on: 01 Jan '08Published on: 01 Jan '08Published in: The European Physical Journal Special Topics


Recent trends in biothermophotonics of teeth are presented. The presentation is centered on the development of clinical-level frequency-domain photothermal radiometry and modulated luminescence to address issues associated with the early diagnosis of demineralization caries in human teeth. Biothermophotonic principles and applications to the detection of the carious state in human teeth as embodied by laser photothermal radiometry are presented and further supported by modulated luminescence. The emphasis is on recent developments with regard to abilities of these techniques to diagnose interproximal lesions between teeth, etching with phosphoric acid and with an artificial demineralization gel in order to simulate early demineralization, as well as demineralization and remineralization of dental crown enamel and root dentin. These are lesions which normally go undetected by X-ray radiographs. Comparisons with X rays, Micro-Computed Tomography (μ-CT) and Transverse Micro-Radiography (TMR) are discussed. A theoretical model involving coupled diffuse photon density and thermal-wave fields is developed and applied to frequency scans from demineralized artificial lesions to produce quantitative values for optical and thermophysical parameters of teeth as well as the thickness of the induced lesion.