Background: The aim of this study was to determine if image enhancement improves a clinician's ability to identify the presence of calculus on digital radiographs. Methods: Seventy-one hopeless teeth were collected from 34 patients. Teeth were stained with 1% methylene blue, the largest interproximal calculus deposit was scored, and photographs of each interproximal root surface were taken. The surface area of calculus deposit was determined as a percentage of the total interproximal root surface area. Digital radiographs of teeth taken before extraction were modified using the following enhancements: auto-contrast, emboss, invert, and sharpen. Radiographic presence of calculus was determined by two examiners. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated for each examiner and enhancement. A receiver operating characteristic curve was used to compare differences between the image enhancements in the detection of dental calculus. The kappa statistic was used to compare ratings between examiners. Results: None of the enhanced images were statistically superior to original images in identifying radiographic calculus (P > 0.05). The average sensitivity of digital radiography was 50%, average specificity was 82.2%, PPV was 94%, and NPV 23.2%. A threshold of >30% of interproximal root surface covered with calculus and increasing size of deposits were associated with improved detection (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Digital enhancements do not significantly improve radiographic detection of dental calculus. As area of calculus on the root surface and size of calculus deposits increased, sensitivity of detection also increased.
- dental calculus; periodontal diseases; prognosis; radiography
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