The morphology of permanent and primary enamel surface merits further analysis. The objective of this study
was to illustrate a method of SEM digital image processing able to quantify and discriminate between the morphological
characteristics of primary and permanent tooth enamel.
Sixteen extracted teeth, 8 primary teeth
and 8 permanent teeth, kept in saline solution, were analysed. The teeth were observed under SEM. The SEM images were
analysed by means of digitally processed algorithms. The two algorithms used were: Local standard deviation to measure
surface roughness with the roughness index (RI); Hough's theorem to identify linear structures with the linear structure index
The SEM images of primary teeth enamel show smooth enamel with little areas of irregularity. No linear
structures are apparent. The SEM images of permanent enamel show a not perfectly smooth surface; there are furrows and
irregularities of variable depth and width.
In the clinical practice a number of different situations require the
removal of a thin layer of enamel. Only a good morphological knowledge of both permanent and primary tooth enamel gives
the opportunity to identify and exploit the effects of rotary tools on enamel, thus allowing for a correct finishing
Vol.12 – n.3/2011
Harvard: A. Lucchese, E. Storti (2011) "Morphological characteristics of primary enamel surfaces versus permanent enamel surfaces: SEM digital analysis", European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 12(3), pp179-183. doi:
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