Dental Diagnosis and Treatment Assessments: Between X-rays Radiography and Optical Coherence Tomography

by Ralph-Alexandru Erdelyi, Virgil-Florin Duma, Cosmin Sinescu, George Mihai Dobre, Adrian Bradu, and Adrian Podoleanu, Materials 13(21) 4825 2020;

A correct diagnosis in dental medicine is typically provided only after clinical and radiological evaluations. They are also required for treatment assessments. The aim of this study is to establish the boundaries from which a modern, although established, imaging technique, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is more suitable than the common X-ray radiography to assess dental issues and treatments. The most common methods for daily-basis clinical imaging are utilized in this study for extracted teeth (but also for other dental samples and materials), i.e., panoramic, intraoral radiography, and three-dimensional (3D) cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). The advantages of using OCT as an imaging method in dentistry are discussed, with a focus on its superior image resolution. Drawbacks related to its limited penetration depth and Field-of-View (FOV) are pointed out. High-quality radiological investigations are performed, measurements are done, and data collected. The same teeth and samples are also imaged (mostly) with an in-house developed Swept Source (SS)-OCT system, Master-Slave enhanced. Some of the OCT investigations employed two other in-house developed OCT systems, Spectral Domain (SD) and Time Domain (TD). Dedicated toolbars from Romexis software (Planmeca, Helsinki, Finland) are used to perform measurements using both radiography and OCT. Clinical conclusions are drawn from the investigations. Upsides and downsides of the two medical imaging techniques are concluded for each type of considered diagnosis. For treatment assessments, it is concluded that OCT is more appropriate than radiography in all applications, except bone-related investigations and periodontitis that demand data from higher-penetration depths than possible with the current level of OCT technology.