A polarization sensitive optical imaging system is used to detect changes in polarization in dental tissues to aid the diagnosis of dental disease such as caries. The degree of depolarization is measured by illuminating the dental tissue with polarized light and measuring the polarization state of the backscattered light. The polarization state of this reflected light is analyzed using optical polarimetric imaging techniques. A hand-held fiber optic dental probe is used in vivo to direct the incident beam to the dental tissue and collect the reflected light. To provide depth-resolved characterization of the dental tissue, the polarization diagnostics may be incorporated into optical coherence domain reflectometry and optical coherence tomography (OCDR/OCT) systems, which enables identification of subsurface depolarization sites associated with demineralization of enamel or bone.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.