Sensitive methods that can enable early detection of dental diseases (caries and calculus) are desirable in clinical practice. Optical spectroscopic approaches have emerged as promising alternatives owing to their wealth of molecular information and lack of sample preparation requirements. In the present study, using multispectral fluorescence imaging, we have demonstrated that dental caries and calculus can be objectively identified on extracted tooth. Spectral differences among control, carious and calculus conditions were attributed to the porphyrin pigment content, which is a byproduct of bacterial metabolism. Spectral maps generated using different porphyrin bands offer important clues to the spread of bacterial infection. Statistically significant differences utilizing fluorescence intensity ratios were observed among three groups. In contrast to laser induced fluorescence, these methods can provide information about exact spread of the infection and may aid in long term dental monitoring. Successful adoption of this approach for routine clinical usage can assist dentists in implementing timely remedial measures.
Keywords: Fluorescence spectroscopy; biophotonics; dentistry; multispectral imaging.
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