Original Research. Photoacoustic Microscopy in Dental Medicine

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Introduction: Photoacoustic microscopy, also known as optoacoustic imaging, is a comparatively new method of investigation in dental medicine, which uses a laser-generated ultrasound (short laser pulses) to achieve images for interpretation. Photoacoustic microscopy can be used in a broad spectrum, from detecting tooth decay at its earliest stages to dental anatomy analysis. Material and methods: The energy emitted by the photoacoustic pulse is moderately absorbed by the target and exchanged into heat, leading to a local transitory temperature upsurge. The tension propagates and grows as ultrasonic waves, distinguished by the ultrasonic transducers which are planted apart from the tissue. The photoacoustic microscope has a tunable dye laser which passes through a condensing lens, an objective and ultimately an ultrasonic transducer attached to an acoustic lens to capture and receive information about the scanned probe from a sample moved on the X, Y dimensions. Results: The precise anatomy of layered concentric structures can be clearly observed in photoacoustic microscopy. The image value of the inner layer can be higher, indicating strong optical absorption, while the image value of the outer layer is lower, indicating weaker optical absorption. Meanwhile, the inner layer has the exact same size as the dentin structure and the outer layer has the exact same size as the enamel structure in this cross-section. Conclusions: The photoacoustic microscope (all-optical) comes out to be a future and promising tool for detecting early-stage caries and lesions on the surface of the teeth, where micro-leakage occurs at the interface of tooth restoration, and also the anatomy of dental tissues.

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