Detection of invisible dental biofilm using light-induced autofluorescence in adult patients-A systematic review

Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther. 2022 Sep:39:102916. doi: 10.1016/j.pdpdt.2022.102916. Epub 2022 May 21.


Background: Autofluorescence (AF) spectroscopy is a potent yet non-invasive technique with diagnostic and therapeutic applications. It identifies and characterizes changes occurring in the human body based on the changes in the fluorescence signatures.

Aim: The primary purpose of this systematic review is to address the question "Is it feasible to detect dental plaque using light-induced auto-fluorescence in adult patients with invisible grade 1 plaque?"

Materials and methods: The literature search was conducted independently MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Scopus databases for relevant studies from January 2000 and June 2021, using the following terms in various combinations: detection, dental biofilm, plaque, light, auto-fluorescence, caries, gingivitis, sensitivity and specificity. Studies describing various fluorescence techniques for the detection of plaque, including sensitivity and specificity, were included.

Results: The majority of the studies indicated that AF spectroscopy allows fluorescence-based detection of various diseases, including early-stage dental plaque. While results of conventional plaque detection techniques are inconsistent, the data from the AF technique is reliable and reproducible, which can be used for patient documentation. However, a wide range of non-uniformity existed in these studies. AF spectroscopy, as a non-invasive technique, represents a viable and patient-friendly clinical tool for the early detection of dental biofilm plaque, and its meticulous removal has been directly responsible for the prevention of this disease.

Conclusion: Despite the heterogeneity and limitations of studies included in this review, the future for light-induced autofluorescence spectroscopy technologies in diagnostic dentistry certainly presents an accurate and potentially applicable option.

Keywords: Biofilm; Dental biofilm detection; Light-induced autofluorescence; Oral hygiene; Periodontal disease; Spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biofilms
  • Dental Plaque*
  • Gingivitis* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Photochemotherapy* / methods