Open Access Research article

Evaluating the use of fluorescent imaging for the quantification of dental fluorosis

Michael G McGrady1*, Roger P Ellwood2, Andrew Taylor2, Anne Maguire3, Michaela Goodwin1, Nicola Boothman1 and Iain A Pretty2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Dentistry, University of Manchester, Manchester, England, M13 9PL, UK

2 Colgate Palmolive Dental Health Unit, Williams House, Lloyd Street North, M15 6SE, Manchester, England, UK

3 School of Dental Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NE2 4BW, England, UK

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BMC Oral Health 2012, 12:47  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-12-47

Published: 1 November 2012



The quantification of fluorosis using fluorescence imaging (QLF) hardware and stain analysis software has been demonstrated in selected populations with good correlation between fluorescent image metrics and TF Index scores from photographs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of QLF to quantify fluorosis in a population of subjects (aged 11–13) participating in an epidemiological caries and fluorosis survey in fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities in Northern England.


Fluorescent images of the maxillary incisors were captured together with standardized photographs were scored blind for fluorosis using the TF Index. Subjects were excluded from the analysis if there were restorations or caries on the maxillary central incisors.


Data were available for 1774 subjects (n=905 Newcastle, n=869 Manchester). The data from the fluorescence method demonstrated a significant correlation with TF Index scores from photographs (Kendall’s tau = 0.332 p<0.0001). However, a number of additional confounding factors such as the presence of extrinsic stain or increased enamel translucency on some subjects without fluorosis or at low levels of fluorosis severity had an adverse impact on tooth fluorescence and hence the outcome variable. This in conjunction with an uneven distribution of subjects across the range of fluorosis presentations may have resulted in the lower than anticipated correlations between the fluorescent imaging metrics and the photographic fluorosis scores. Nevertheless, the fluorescence imaging technique was able to discriminate between a fluoridated and non-fluoridated population (p<0.001).


Despite confounding factors the fluorescence imaging system may provide a useful objective, blinded system for the assessment of enamel fluorosis when used adjunctively with photographic scoring.