Gingivitis is the most common gingival inflammation in the oral cavity, and the most prevalent periodontal disease affecting 90% of the population in all age groups. Recently, a few research groups have investigated the possibility of using ultrasound in dentistry, particularly in diagnosing bony destruction in the more severe form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. This work investigates the feasibility of using ultrasound imaging to quantitatively assess gingival tissue inflammation. Signal and image processing of ultrasound data have been performed to quantitatively assess gingival tissue. A number of gingival scans were conducted in vitro to render ultrasound images of high-spatial and contrast resolutions. For each sample the B-mode images were matched with almost the same slices in histology. Results show that ultrasound scans for tissues with gingivitis exhibited low intensity of reflections (hypo echoic) at the inflamed tissues, while healthy dense epithelium layers exhibited higher reflections (hyper echoic). Histological diagnosis revealed good agreement with the ultrasound results indicating the usefulness of such ultrasound imaging in diagnosing gingivitis. In addition, a new design for an intraoral linear array ultrasound probe is demonstrated and utilized in our clinic in vivo. Analysis of the echogenicity patterns of the resultant images demonstrates the potential of using such a new probe in gingival health assessment, which would be feasible and clinical relevant for patient evaluations clinically.

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