Monitoring lesion activity on primary teeth with CP-OCT and SWIR reflectance imaging

May 12, 2023

Yihua Zhu (1), Jungsoo Kim (1), Brent Lin (1), Daniel Fried (1)
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Volume 55, Issue 6, pages 601-609 (12 May 2023). DOI:


Caries detection, caries diagnosis, dental caries, lesion activity, optical coherence tomography, SWIR imaging


Objective: The purpose of this study was to use cross polarization optical coherence tomography (CP-OCT) and short wavelength infrared imaging (SWIR) reflectance imaging to monitor changes in the structure and activity of early occlusal caries on primary teeth over a period of 6 months during intervention with fluoride. Methods: Participants (n = 29) aged 6−10 each with two suspected active occlusal lesions on primary teeth completed the study. Fluoride varnish was applied to tooth surfaces every 3-months and participants were instructed to brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. Images were acquired using CP-OCT every 3 months for 6 months. SWIR reflectance images were acquired during forced air-drying of the lesions for 30 s at 0 and 6-months. Results: Most of the 42 lesions appeared initially active at baseline. Only 6 lesions appeared arrested at baseline based on the presence of a highly mineralized transparent surface layer (TSL) in CP-OCT images. At 6 months, 14 of the lesions appeared arrested including the 6 initially arrested lesions and the TSL thickness increased significantly (p < 0.0001). The mean lesion depth (Ld) and the integrated reflectivity over the lesion depth (ΔR) increased significantly (p < 0.05) after 6 months for the 42 lesions analyzed. SWIR reflectance images showed that there was a significantly higher (p < 0.05) delay before changes in intensity were measured for active lesions versus arrested lesions during lesion drying. Conclusion: CP-OCT was able to monitor changes in lesion structure and activity including the formation of a highly mineralized TSL indicative of lesion arrest during nonsurgical intervention. Time-resolved SWIR reflectance imaging also shows that there are differences in the dehydration kinetics between active and arrested lesions. This study demonstrates two independent imaging methods that can be used to monitor changes in lesion activity over time.

How Our Software Was Used

Images were imported into Dragonfly for co-registration, quantitative measurements of lesion areas, and analysis.

Author Affiliation

(1) School of Dentistry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA