Standard intraoral radiography vs. cone beam computed tomography for root canal systems detection in historical dental material

Agata Przesmycka, Jacek Tomczyk, Joanna Zarzecka, Slawomir Koziel, Marta Zalewska


The study of root canal systems of historical teeth is relatively new in anthropological research. This issue has not been extensively documented in the anthropological literature. The authors of the present study have detected the visibility of root canal systems in 231 human teeth belonging to 11 individuals of both sexes from the 18th and 19th centuries in an archaeological site at Radom (Poland). Teeth were divided precisely into one-, two-, and three-rooted specimens. Each root was analyzed separately. Three methods were used: Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), Standard Intraoral Radiography in Paralleling Technique (PT), and Same Lingual Opposite Buccal (SLOB) technique with constant exposure conditions. It was found that CBCT can be used successfully, even treated as a “gold standard”, providing the highest visibility rate of all teeth types. In maxilla one-root teeth, the root canal is more visible in PT (77%) than in SLOB (54%) technique. In upper premolars, both buccal and palatal canals are more visible in SLOB (75% and 85%, respectively), and the differences are statistically significant (p = 0.0003 and p < 0.0001, respectively). In three-rooted teeth, the most visible canals are distobuccal, in both SLOB (80%) and PT (70%) methods. Less frequently diagnosed are canals in mesiobuccal roots in both radiographic methods (PT 20% and SLOB 32%). The canals in palatal root were poorly detectable. In mandibular one-root teeth, a higher visibility rate was achieved with PT (93%) than SLOB (80%) technique. In distal roots of mandibular molars, the canals are more visible in PT (59%) method. Morphology of mesial root was better detected in SLOB (74%) technique. The study demonstrates the potential of using single-root teeth when the rest of the tooth root is fragmented.


Cone Beam Computed Tomography, Standard Intraoral Radiography, root canal system, Radom

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