New low-cost technique helps dentists quickly detect early tooth decay

Lassonde professor who found new technique

Lassonde School of Engineering Professor Nima Tabatabaei’s paper, recently published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, presents a new low-cost imaging device for early detection of tooth cavities.

Nima Tabatabaei
Nima Tabatabaei

Dentists currently rely on two methods to detect early caries: X-ray imaging and visual inspection of the tooth surface, but both of these diagnostics have limitations. Dentists can’t see caries until it is relatively advanced, and x-rays can’t detect occlusal early caries – those on the biting surface of the tooth.

In First step toward translation of thermophotonic lock-in imaging to dentistry as an early caries detection technology researchers from York University, including Tabatabaei describe a low-cost thermophotonic lock-in imaging (TPLI) tool that would allow dentists to detect developing caries much earlier than x-rays or visual analysis.

The TPLI tool uses a long-wavelength infrared camera to detect the small amount of thermal infrared radiation emitted from dental caries after stimulation by a light source.

The tool has the benefits of being noncontact, noninvasive, and low-cost, and has great potential as a commercially viable diagnostic imaging device for dentistry.

The co-authors on the study are York University graduate student Ashkan Ojaghi and York University undergraduate student Artur Parkhimchyk.