Intraoral three-dimensional (3D) imaging capability promises to revolutionize traditional dental practice workflow by allowing chairside real-time 3D digital model acquisition without taking traditional impressions, thus facilitating speedy and accurate computer-aided-design (CAD) and computer-aided- manufacturing (CAM) of dental restorations at dentist's office or off-site labs. The 3D imaging technology leads to a new era of digital dentistry. However, bulky form factor and lack of flexibility are among general shortcomings for both 2D and 3D intraoral camera products: bulky sizes of distal probe and handheld units limit their access of entire treatment regions;and their designs usually have rigid structure, preventing their uses in confined spaces and difficult to access areas. The primary objective of this SBIR is to develop and demonstrate a novel 3D imaging approach that enables simultaneous 2D and 3D surface imaging capability for intraoral camera based on the ultrathin fiber scanning concept. The ultrathin intraoral 3D camera (UT3D) we propose herein has several unique features that are far-superior to any existing intraoral cameras: ultrathin (~1 mm), flexible, high resolution 2D/3D (megapixels), accurate and user-friendly for intraoral imaging. This novel 3D technology and product would enable a new level of imaging capability, accessibility, patient comfort, and versatile uses for CAD/CAM applications. With its ultrathin and flexible features, this novel 3D camera can also serve as the """"""""Eye-On-The- Tip"""""""" for many dental instruments. The tiny distal end and flexibility allow the ultrathin camera to access areas of undercuts, relief, shear walls/sides that are impossible for traditional optical imaging cameras to access. Our Phase I specific aims are:
Aim 1 : Design and build a Phase 1 prototype of the ultrathin intraoral 3D camera;
Aim 2 : Develop, validate and implement the 3D imaging algorithms for the ultrathin intraoral 3D camera;
Aim 3 : Perform 3D imaging tests on phantom and real teeth to quantify UI3D camera's performance;
Aim 4 : Identify areas of improvement based on Phase 1 results, and develop/optimize Phase 2 work plan.

Public Health Relevance

____________________________________________________________________________________ Project Narrative Dental appointments rate very high on most people's lists of experiences they would rather avoid, due to uncomfortable and lengthy dental restoration procedures. Nowadays, a crown (or other dental prosthesis) procedure requires a patient to make two visits to the dental office spaced about two weeks apart. In the first visit, a dental impression is made of the prepared tooth, and a temporary crown is placed over the tooth. The impression is shipped to a dental laboratory for crown fabrication. The dentist will recall the patient when the crown is ready two weeks later. The temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is fitted, adjusted, and cemented into place. If for any reason the crown does not fit well, this lengthy, costly, and uncomfortable process will have to be repeated. Recent years, intraoral three-dimensional (3D) camera technology has attracted significant attention and promises to eliminate traditional dental impressions, thus revolutionizes current dental restoration practices and brings dentistry into a new era of digital dentistry. Despite its slow progresses, intraoral 3D cameras have become useful tools for dentists to perform digital restoration. At least a handful of 3D scanner systems are available on the market. Presently, 3D scanning has not yet replaced traditional impressions with significant portion of market share. The slow aceptance of 3D technology may have many contributing factors, including accuracy/resolution issues, speed and completeness of scanning, handling diversified cases in clinical uses, marketing strategy, pricing, and business model. These issues will be worked out by continued improvements of technology and business strategy. Bulky form factor and lack of flexibility are among general shortcomings for both 2D and 3D intraoral camera products: bulky sizes of distal probe and handheld units limit their access of entire treatment regions; and their designs usually have rigid structure, preventing their uses in confined spaces and difficult to access areas. We propose this SBIR to develop a novel ultrathin intraoral 2D/3D camera that is far-superior to any existing intraoral imaging technology in terms of small form factor and flexibility to access treatment areas. The proposed ultrathin intraoral 3D camera is based on an unconventional single fiber scanning concept and a novel 3D image reconstruction principle. This disruptive technology uses a single mode fiber vibrating in resonance to scan a focused laser over the imaging target surface. Multiple fiber sensors embedded on the outer housing are used to record backscattered light signals. Sophisticated signal analysis and 3D reconstruction algorithms are used to produce simultaneous co-registered 2D and 3D image of the target surface. With diameter as small as 1 mm, this novel ultrathin intraoral camera concept opens entirely new possibilities to dental imaging applications in regions that were previously inaccessible to conventional cameras due to their bulky size and poor image quality. This is a collaborative project. Xigen team will focus on developing and implementing the 3D imaging capability for UI3D camera. Our collaborative team at UW will focus on re-designing and implementing the UI3D system and provide Phase 1 prototype for tests. We will also be working closely with active dentists to provide us guidance in clinical related issues. We will redesign the single fiber scanning mechanism to allow for signal collection from multiple separately placed fiber collectors embedded on the outer housing. We will develop and test a novel oval shape outlet that has multiple baselines to facilitate reliable and accurate 3D imaging algorithms for dental imaging applications. We will build a functional Phase 1 prototype of the UI3D camera and perform extensive experiments on phantom and real-teeth to assess the performance and areas of improvements. Full scale UI3D systems will be developed and clinically evaluated in the follow-on Phase 2 project. Key Words Ultrathin intraoral 3D camera, 3D imaging, dental imaging Proprietary Information of XIGEN LLC. 0 NIH SBIR PAR-09-220

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MOSS-K (11))
Program Officer
Drummond, James
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Xigen, LLC
United States
Zip Code