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Optical Coherence Tomography Detects Tooth Decay

Approach used in patients with dental sealants more effective than visual or radiographic exam

FRIDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) appears to detect tooth decay beneath commonly used dental sealants more effectively than visual or radiographic examination, according to a study published online Sept. 16 in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Jennifer S. Holtzman, D.D.S., of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues divided 40 extracted teeth into equal groups of carious and non-carious teeth, determined by visual inspection. Teeth were randomly assigned to sealant placement with one of four commonly purchased dental sealants (Clinpro, Fuji Triage, Embrace Wet Bond, and Delton) after radiographs and OCT imaging were completed. After placement of the sealants, teeth were again radiographed, imaged with OCT, sectioned, and examined histologically.

The investigators found that dentists who underwent 90 minutes of training were able to detect tooth decay more accurately with OCT than with visual or radiographic examination. Detection using OCT was somewhat better before sealants were placed than afterward, with this effect varying in size depending on sealant type used. Detection with radiography was also somewhat better prior to sealant placement than afterward. Delton provided excellent positive predictive value and the best post-sealant negative predictive values compared to the other sealants used.

"Using OCT, dentists are able to diagnose sound and demineralized teeth with lower rates of false positives and false negatives than clinical or radiographic examination," the authors write.

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