Morphological characteristics of primary enamel surfaces versus permanent enamel surfaces: SEM digital analysis

A. Lucchese, E. Storti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: 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. Methods: 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 (LSI). Results: 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. Conclusion: 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 technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-183
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Paediatric Dentistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Digital image processing
  • Primary and permanent enamel
  • SEM analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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