Fluorescence methods (VistaCam iX proof and DIAGNODent pen) for the detection of occlusal carious lesions in teeth recovered from archaeological context



Diagnosis of occlusal enamel caries in archaeologically derived collections remains a controversial problem because the accumulation of contaminants in fissures can interfere with diagnosis. Certain novel light-induced fluorescence methods, such as the DIAGNODent pen 2190 (DD) and VistaCam iX Proof (VC), have been used to detect dental caries in clinical settings. In this study, the abilities of DD and VC to detect initial enamel caries in archaeologically derived material is determined and compared with those of other methods (visual inspection, X-ray, histology, and micro-CT). Dental material encompassing the remains of 58 individuals, including a total of 380 teeth from each of three historical periods: modern Islamic (AD 1850–1950), Islamic (AD 600–1200) and late Roman (AD 200–400), obtained from two archaeological sites (Terqa and Tell Masaikh) located in the Middle Euphrates valley (Syria), were analyzed. VC was found to have excellent sensitivity (98), while DD obtained lower sensitivity (76) in detecting dental caries in its early stages. The results obtained by VC and micro-CT, considered the most reliable imaging technique, were not statistically significant (P = 0.3068). By contrast, results obtained by DD and micro-CT results, and DD and VC results were statistically significant (P < 0.0001, P = 0.0015, respectively). However the presence of dirt, stain, calculus, and plaque in the pits and fissures of the occlusal surface compromise correct diagnosis of caries by VC and DD. Consequently, for teeth recovered from archaeological contexts where staining, calculus and plaque are present, the best solution remains micro-CT. Am J Phys Anthropol 154:525–534, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.