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Automatic dental caries detection in bitewing radiographs.

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Dental Caries is one of the most prevalent chronic disease around the globe. Distinguishing carious lesions has been a challenging task. Conventional computer aided diagnosis and detection methods in the past have heavily relied on visual inspection of teeth. These are only effective on large and clearly visible caries on affected teeth. Conventional methods have been limited in performance due to the complex visual characteristics of dental caries images, which consists of hidden or inaccessible lesions. Early detection of dental caries is an important determinant for treatment and benefits much from the introduction of new tools such as dental radiography. A method for the segmentation of teeth in bitewing X-rays is presented in this thesis, as well as a method for the detection of dental caries on X-ray images using a supervised model. The diagnostic method proposed uses an assessment protocol that is evaluated according to a set of identifiers obtained from a learning model. The proposed technique automatically detects hidden and inaccessible dental caries lesions in bitewing radio graphs. The approach employed data augmentation to increase the number of images in the data set in order to have a total of 11,114 dental images. Image pre-processing on the data set was through the use of Gaussian blur filters. Image segmentation was handled through thresholding, erosion and dilation morphology, while image boundary detection was achieved through active contours method. Furthermore, the deep learning based network through the sequential model in Keras extracts features from the images through blob detection. Finally, a convexity threshold value of 0.9 is introduced to aid in the classification of caries as either present or not present. The relative efficacy of the supervised model in diagnosing dental caries when compared to current systems is indicated by the results detailed in this thesis. The proposed model achieved a 97% correct diagnostic which proved quite competitive with existing models.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.