An Experimental Review of Optical Coherence Tomography Systems for Noninvasive Assessment of Hard Dental Tissues

Christine C. Sahyoun, Hrebesh M. Subhash, Deborah Peru, Roger P. Ellwood, Mark C. Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive, high-resolution, cross-sectional imaging technique. To date, OCT has been demonstrated in several areas of dentistry, primarily using wavelengths around 1,300 nm, low numerical aperture (NA) imaging lenses, and detectors insensitive to the polarization of light. The objective of this study is to compare the performance of three commercially available OCT systems operating with alternative wavelengths, imaging lenses, and detectors for OCT imaging of dental enamel. Spectral-domain (SD) OCT systems with (i) 840 nm (Lumedica, OQ LabScope 1.0), (ii) 1,300 nm (Thorlabs, Tel320) center wavelengths, and (iii) a swept-source (SS) OCT system (Thorlabs OCS1300SS) centered at 1,325 nm with optional polarization-sensitive detection were used. Low NA (0.04) and high NA (0.15) imaging lenses were used with system (iii). Healthy in vivo and in vitrohuman enamel and eroded in vitro bovine enamel specimens were imaged. The Tel320 system achieved greater imaging depth than the OQ LabScope 1.0, on average imaging 2.6 times deeper into the tooth (n = 10). The low NA lens provided a larger field of view and depth of focus, while the high NA lens provided higher lateral resolution and greater contrast. Polarization-sensitive imaging eliminated birefringent banding artifacts that can appear in conventional OCT scans. In summary, this study illustrates the performance of three commercially available OCT systems, objective lenses, and imaging modes and how these can affect imaging depth, resolution, field of view, and contrast in enamel. Users investigating OCT for dental applications should consider these factors when selecting an OCT system for clinical or basic science studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalCaries Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Dentistry(all)


  • Demineralization
  • Enamel erosion
  • Imaging systems
  • In vivo imaging
  • Optical coherence tomography

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