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Dental Imaging

We are building a wearable mouthpiece that non-invasively measures dental pocket depths and assesses gingival health using ultrasound. We are motivated by studies showing that dental pain dramatically decreases quality of life but that nearly 50% of Americans have some form of periodontitis. Our scientific premise is that the current approach to measuring pocket depths is painful and imprecise with coefficients of variation as high as 40%. This results in poor patient compliance and poor diagnostic insight ultimately leading to attachment loss. Therefore, less painful and more accurate diagnostic tools could improve dental health and thus overall quality of life. Our preliminary data (J. Dent. Res., 2017) used an oral rinse based on the melanin nanoparticles from food-grade squid ink to map and measure the contours of the entire periodontal pocket in swine models with novel photoacoustic imaging. We noted good correlation of these image-based measurements to conventional probe depth measurements. We are now expanding these efforts to also characterize peri-implantitis and typify biofilms.