Evaluation of dental caries, tooth crack, and age-related changes in tooth structure using optical coherence tomography

Yasushi Shimada, Masahiro Yoshiyama, Junji Tagami, Yasunori Sumi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an imaging technique that can visualize the internal biological structure without X-ray exposure. Swept-source OCT (SS-OCT) is one of the latest version of OCT, wherein the light source is a tunable laser that sweeps near-infrared wavelength light to achieve real-time imaging. The imaging depth of OCT is highly influenced by the translucency of the medium. The medium that does not transmit light and the deeper structure beyond the range of light penetration depth are not relevant for OCT imaging. In OCT, sound enamel is almost transparent at the OCT wavelength range, and enamel and dentin can be distinguished from each other as the dentin–enamel junction (DEJ) appears as a dark border. Demineralized enamel and dentin are imaged as bright zones because of the formation of numerous micro-porosities where the backscatter of OCT signal is increased. In cavitated caries at interproximal or occlusal hidden zone, the upper margin of the cavity reflects the signal showing a distinct bright border in the SS-OCT image. SS-OCT is capable of determining crack penetration depth even when the cracks extended beyond the DEJ. SS-OCT has a high degree of sensitivity and specificity for the detection of dental caries and tooth cracks. SS-OCT is also capable of detecting non-carious cervical lesions and occlusal tooth wear in cross-sectional views to estimate the amount of tooth structure loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalJapanese Dental Science Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Age-related changes
  • Caries
  • Diagnosis
  • NCCL
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Tooth crack
  • Tooth wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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