Imaging human teeth by phosphorus magnetic resonance with nuclear Overhauser enhancement

Yi Sun, Ole Brauckmann, Donald R. Nixdorf, Arno Kentgens, Michael Garwood, Djaudat Idiyatullin, Arend Heerschap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional phosphorus MR images (31 P MRI) of teeth are obtained at a nominal resolution of 0.5 mm in less than 15 minutes using acquisition pulse sequences sensitive to ultra-short transversal relaxation times. The images directly reflect the spatially resolved phosphorus content of mineral tissue in dentin and enamel; they show a lack of signal from pulp tissue and reduced signal from de-mineralized carious lesions. We demonstrate for the first time that the signal in 31 P MR images of mineralized tissue is enhanced by a 1 H-31 P nuclear Overhauser effect (NOE). Using teeth as a model for imaging mineralized human tissue, graded differences in signal enhancement are observed that correlate well with known mineral content. From solid-state NMR experiments we conclude that the NOE is facilitated by spin diffusion and that the NOE difference can be assigned to a higher water content and a different micro-structure of dentin. Thus, a novel method for imaging mineral content without ionizing radiation is proposed. This method has potential use in the assessment of de-mineralization states in humans, such as caries of teeth and osteoporosis of bones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30756
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Aug 8 2016


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