The purpose of this study was to determine if the degree of fluorescence detected by fluorescence-aided caries excavation (FACE) correlates with dentin bacterial microbiome diversity, as assessed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and with traditional tactile dentin caries assessment. Unidentified human teeth were obtained from a dental facility. The included teeth had a carious lesion two-thirds into the dentin, verified by radiography, and were red-fluorescing (RF) using FACE technology (SIROInspect; Sirona, Bensheim, Germany). Two independent examiners performed visual/tactile assessment of the lesions. RF sites were sampled with a sterile spoon excavator and dentin characteristics were evaluated. Once RF dentin was removed, a second sample of pink-fluorescing (PF) dentin was obtained. After excavation with a sterile round bur to nonfluorescing (NF) dentin, a third sample was collected with a slow-speed round bur. The samples were processed at the UNC (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Microbiome Core Facility. Out of 134 extracted teeth collected, 21 fit the inclusion criteria, yielding 61 dentin samples. RF samples had the highest number of observed operational taxonomic units (n = 154), followed by PF (n = 109) and NF (n = 100). RF carious dentin was primarily “soft,” and NF dentin was assessed as “hard” 100% of the time by both examiners (rank correlation χ2: p < 0.001). However, approximately one-third of the tactile assessments of hard dentin still displayed some fluorescence, either pink or red. We concluded that the sampled fluorescing (RF and PF) and NF carious dentin layers displayed diverse bacterial taxa, and tactile assessments of soft, leathery, and hard corresponded with RF, PF, and NF.

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