Impedance spectroscopy of teeth with and without approximal caries lesions - An in vitro study

M C D N J M Huysmans, C Longbottom, N B Pitts, P Los, P G Bruce

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Caries diagnosis by the measurement of electrical resistance is hampered by polarization effects when de or single-low-frequency ac currents are used. Electrical impedance spectroscopy, measuring impedance over a large range of frequencies, will provide more detailed information about the electrical characteristics of teeth. It was the aim of this study (a) to characterize the complex impedance behavior of whole extracted teeth, measured at the approximal surface, and (b) to identify parameters of the complex impedance behavior of the teeth which would be useful in distinguishing between degrees of carious involvement. Thirty-nine extracted premolar teeth with 59 unrestored and undamaged (excepting caries) approximal surfaces were selected. The tooth surfaces were divided into three groups according to their macroscopic appearance: sound (group S, n = 16), white- or brown-spot lesion present (group L, n = 33), or cavitated (group C, n = 10). The teeth were inserted into a jig which allowed for counter-electrode contact via a conducting gel. The working electrode consisted of a carbonated fiber material. Electrical impedance measurements were performed over a maximum range of about 1 MHz to 0.1 Hz. We analyzed electrical impedance data by fitting equivalent circuits. Fit was evaluated numerically and visually. The complex impedance spectra divided naturally into three groups which corresponded almost perfectly with the classifications of S, L, and C. The groups differed most in the de resistance (R(dc)), as calculated from the impedance parameters. Mean R(dc) for groups S, L, and C were 68 M Omega, 5.9 Mn, and 321 k Omega, respectively. These means were significantly different from each other (log-transformed data, ANOVA, p < 0.001; Tukey multiple comparisons, p < 0.001). It is concluded that the in vitro performance of electrical impedance spectroscopy in differentiating among sound, non-cavitated carious, and cavitated approximal tooth surfaces is excellent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1871-1878
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996


  • dental caries
  • caries diagnosis
  • electrical impedance spectroscopy
  • diagnostic systems


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