Photoacoustic imaging for monitoring periodontal health: A first human study

Colman Moore, Yuting Bai, Ali Hariri, Joan B. Sanchez, Ching-Yu Lin, Sreenivas Koka, Parish Sedghizadeh, Casey Chen, Jesse V. Jokerst
The gold-standard periodontal probe is an aging tool that can detect periodontitis and monitor gingival health but is highly error-prone, does not fully characterize the periodontal pocket, and causes pain. Photoacoustic imaging is a noninvasive technique that can address these limitations. Here, a range of ultrasound frequencies between 16–40 MHz were used to image the periodontium and a contrast medium based on cuttlefish ink was used to label the pockets. A 40 MHz ultrasound frequency could spatially resolve the periodontal anatomy, including tooth, gum, gingival margin, and gingival thickness of tooth numbers 7–10 and 22–27. The photoacoustic-ultrasound measurements were more precise (0.01 mm) than those taken with physical probes by a dental hygienist. Furthermore, the full geometry of the pockets could be visualized with relative standard deviations of 10% (n = 5). This study shows the potential for non-invasive monitoring of periodontal health with photoacoustic-ultrasound imaging in the dental clinic.

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