Current diagnostic techniques in dentistry rely predominantly on X-rays to monitor dental caries. Terahertz Pulsed Imaging (TPI) has great potential for medical applications since it is a nondestructive imaging method. It does not cause any ionization hazard on biological samples due to low energy of THz radiation. Even though it is strongly absorbed by water which exhibits very unique chemical and physical properties that contribute to strong interaction with THz radiation, teeth can still be investigated in three dimensions. Recent investigations suggest that this method can be used in the early identification of dental diseases and imperfections in the tooth structure without the hazards of using techniques which rely on x-rays. We constructed a continuous wave (CW) and time-domain reflection mode raster scan THz imaging system that enables us to investigate various teeth samples in two or three dimensions. The samples comprised of either slices of individual tooth samples or rows of teeth embedded in wax, and the imaging was done by scanning the sample across the focus of the THz beam. 2D images were generated by acquiring the intensity of the THz radiation at each pixel, while 3D images were generated by collecting the amplitude of the reflected signal at each pixel. After analyzing the measurements in both the spatial and frequency domains, the results suggest that the THz pulse is sensitive to variations in the structure of the samples that suggest that this method can be useful in detecting the presence of caries.

© 2015 SPIE

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