Possible application of transmitted laser light for the assessment of human pulp vitality. Part 2. Increased laser power for enhanced detection of pulpal blood flow

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of an increase in laser power on the transmitted laser signals from vital and non-vital teeth, in the hope of achieving a better assessment of human pulp vitality with the transmitted laser-light flowmeter. The experiments were carried out on total of 61 vital teeth with no restoration (19 upper central incisors, 16 upper lateral incisors, 16 upper canines, and 10 first premolars) and five non-vital upper central incisors (the root canals of which were filled with gutta-percha) in 15 subjects aged 22–28 years. For use with transmitted laser light, the fibers within the probe of a conventional laser Doppler flowmeter (LDF) apparatus were used, one for transmitting light onto the labial surface, the other for receiving it at the palatal surface of the same tooth, as reported previously. Laser output power was set at the original 2 mW and also at 5, 7, and 10 mW. The number of vital teeth displaying a blood flow (BF) signal at each laser power setting was: 1) 12/19 central incisors at 2 mW, 19/19 at 5, 7, and 10 mW, 2) 19/19 lateral incisors at 2, 5, 7, and 10 mW, 3) 0/16 canines at 2 mW, but eight, 12, and 14 at 5, 7, and 10 mW, 4) 0/10 first premolars at 2, 5, 7, and 10 mW. Thus, an increase in laser power increased BF detection from the thicker teeth (but not from premolars). In addition, clearer BF signals synchronized with heart rate, and greater passive BF changes secondary to blood pressure (BP) changes were observed at higher laser settings. In non-vital teeth, no signals synchronized with heart rate or BP changes were observed, indicating that no BF signal of non-pulpal origin was ever monitored with this ballistic light even when the laser power was increased. These results indicate that high-powered transmitted laser light could be a useful tool both for monitoring pulpal BF and for the assessment of tooth-pulp vitality.

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