Could MRI technology help detect cracks in teeth?

MRI technology is not commonly found in a dental practice. But findings from a proof of concept study posted online in advance of publication by DentoMaxillofacial Radiology report that MRI technology can help dentists identify microrcracks in teeth and allow for intervention before significant damage is done. The article was co-authored by Don Nixdorf, DDS, MS, and Lars Gaalaas, DDS, MS (Diagnostic/Biol. Sci-TMD & Orofacial Pain), along with primary author Djaudat Idiyatullin (U-M Center for Magnetic Resonance Research).

The study utilized a UMN-designed imaging technique called Sweep Imaging with Fourier Transformation (SWIFT). SWIFT was capable of detecting cracks with a 20-um width, which is about the size of two red blood cells. Because the sample size of the study is small, findings suggest opportunities for additional research, as well as the potential for developing more accurate diagnostic criteria for use by dentists.