A digital subtraction radiography investigation of upper first molar proximal bone density changes in adolescents

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Abstract

The aim of this in vivo study was to investigate the ability of digital subtraction radiography to monitor changes in proximal bone density, adjacent to the upper first molars, in a group of adolescents using the Digora direct digital radiographic system to acquire images. For 57 adolescents, assessments of changes in probing attachment level at the mesio- and disto-buccal surfaces of both upper first molars and proximal crestal bone density using digital subtraction radiography were made. At the conclusion of this 21-month study attachment loss was identified in 34 (17%) of the 204 sites analysed. For sites with attachment loss a mean decrease in bone density equivalent to 5.51 mm3 aluminium (Al) was found compared to 2.96 mm3 Al for those without (p < 0.001). For the 17 subjects with attachment loss a mean equivalent to 4.66 mm3 Al was lost from the crestal bone compared with 2.56 mm3 Al for the 40 subjects without attachment loss (p < 0.01). The correlation between attachment loss and bone density changes was poor for both sites (r=0.13, p=0.067) and mean scores for subjects (r=0.24, p=0.069). A visual qualitative assessment of bone density change found that 70.6% of sites with attachment loss compared to 62.4% of those without had a decrease in crestal bone density. This study suggests that it is possible to monitor bone density changes in adolescents, with a developing dentition, using digital subtraction radiography. Further, it is suggested that conventional probing assessments of attachment level may underestimate the level of destructive periodontal disease in this age group.

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