Superimposition of sequential scans to measure erosion on unpolished and curved human enamel

J Dent. 2022 Feb:117:103879. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2021.103879. Epub 2021 Nov 9.


Objectives: To determine if superimposition of sequential scans can discriminate between different fluorides at step heights less than 5 μm on natural human enamel surfaces.

Materials and methods: Natural, unpolished, human enamel specimens (n = 60) were randomly assigned to one of three pre-treatment toothpaste slurries with a calcium silicate/fluoride, fluoride-only and a control. Baseline and post treatment scans, from a non-contacting profilometer with a 0.01 μm z-axis and <1 μm lateral scanning resolution were imported into superimposition software to define change in mean 3D step height and surface roughness following erosion in 0.3% citric acid for 15 min. Statistical analysis conducted with two-way repeated measures ANOVA and post-hoc Tukey's multiple comparisons.

Results: Confidence and resolution of superimposition and subtraction of repeated profiles from unpolished enamel revealed accuracy within 1-2 μm. The technique was able to discriminate between the fluorides demonstrating statistical differences in mean (SD) 3D step height (μm) of 1.96 (0.40) and 2.75 (0.49) (p = 0.0024). There was a statistically significant increase in surface roughness for all groups after 15 min erosion compared to baseline. But no statistically significant difference between the interventions after 15 min erosion but there was compared to no fluoride (p = 0.006).

Conclusion: Superimposition and subtraction of profiles could discriminate between fluoride interventions, which showed statistical differences in enamel loss differences less than 3 μm.

Clinical significance: This erosion model and data analysis workflow was able to distinguish differences between scans of 3 μm on unpolished enamel following the interaction with fluoride.

Keywords: Calcium silicate; Dental erosion; Fluoride; Natural enamel; Prevention; Saliva; Surface profilometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dental Enamel / diagnostic imaging
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Sodium Fluoride / therapeutic use
  • Surface Properties
  • Tooth Erosion* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tooth Erosion* / drug therapy
  • Toothpastes / therapeutic use


  • Toothpastes
  • Sodium Fluoride
  • Fluorides