An artificial multilayer perceptron neural network for diagnosis of proximal dental caries

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To evaluate if the application of an artificial intelligence model, a multilayer perceptron neural network, improves the radiographic diagnosis of proximal caries.

Study design

One hundred sixty radiographic images of proximal surfaces of extracted human teeth were assessed regarding the presence of caries by 25 examiners. Examination of the radiographs was used to feed the neural network, and the corresponding teeth were sectioned and assessed under optical microscope (gold standard). This gold standard served to teach the neural network to diagnose caries on the basis of the radiographic exams. To gauge the network's capacity for generalization, i.e., its performance with new cases, data were divided into 3 subgroups for training, test, and cross-validation. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve allowed comparison of efficacy between network and examiner diagnosis.


For the best of the 25 examiners, the ROC curve area was 0.717, whereas network diagnosis achieved an ROC curve area of 0.884, indicating a sizeable improvement in proximal caries diagnosis.


Considering all examiners, the diagnostic improvement using the neural network was 39.4%.

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