A method for detecting the presence of active and inactive caries in teeth and diagnosing periodontal disease uses non-ionizing radiation with techniques for reducing interference from scattered light. A beam of non-ionizing radiation is divided into sample and reference beams. The region to be examined is illuminated by the sample beam, and reflected or transmitted radiation from the sample is recombined with the reference beam to form an interference pattern on a detector. The length of the reference beam path is adjustable, allowing the operator to select the reflected or transmitted sample photons that recombine with the reference photons. Thus radiation scattered by the dental or periodontal tissue can be prevented from obscuring the interference pattern. A series of interference patterns may be generated and interpreted to locate dental caries and periodontal tissue interfaces.
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.