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Open Access Research article

Comparing potential early caries assessment methods for teledentistry

Zachary Van Hilsen1 and Robert S Jones12*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

2 Division of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, 6-150 Moos Health Science Tower, 515 Delaware Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

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BMC Oral Health 2013, 13:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-13-16

Published: 28 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Optical caries detection has the potential to be incorporated in telehealth medicine for preventive dental screening. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare visible and near infrared detection methods for identifying early non-cavitated ex vivo occlusal demineralization.

Methods

Six blinded examiners were used to compare the accuracy of the following three examinations in detecting occlusal demineralization: Midwest Caries ID™ (MID), visual photographic examination (CAM) and Cross Polarization Optical Coherence Tomography (CP-OCT). For each diagnostic method, two examiners assessed the extracted tooth samples 1–2 weeks apart. Teeth were then sectioned and lesion depth was confirmed (n = 42) by a blinded histological examination using a glycol based caries indicator dye. The sensitivity (Sen), specificity (Sp), Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC), and Area under the Receiver Operator Curve (AUC) were calculated.

Results

For detecting any demineralization versus sound pit and fissure enamel, the mean Sen/Sp found was 46.9/85.0 for MID, 80.5/52.5 for CAM, and 83.4/45.0 for CP-OCT. For detecting non-cavitated demineralization that progressed into the dentin, the mean Sen/Sp found was 17.3/88.0 for MID, 48.0/57.8 for CAM, and 44.2/72.7 for CP-OCT. AUC values were statistically significant (P < 0.05) in three out of four examiner assessments when MID and CP-OCT were used to detect any demineralization. AUC values were significant for a single CAM examination. When assessing deeper non-cavitated lesions, none of the assessment methods were able to yield AUC values that were significantly different than a random ‘coin flip’ test. When examining reliability, MID demonstrated the highest ICC score (0.83) and CP-OCT had the lowest (0.49).

Conclusion

Although MID and CP-OCT were useful in detecting the presence of demineralization, examiners were not able to utilize these devices to adequately assess the depth of the demineralization. This study found that MID and CP-OCT did not have markedly superior diagnostic values from simple CAM assessment for use in teledentistry.

Keywords:
Telehealth; Caries; Imaging; Optical Coherence Tomography; Detection system; Light-Emitting Diode