Hierarchical 2D to 3D micro/nano-histology of human dental caries lesions using light, X-ray and electron microscopy

Cyril Besnard, Ali Marie, Petr Bucek, Sisini Sasidharan, Robert Harper, Shashidhara Marathe, Kaz Wanelik, Gabriel Landini, Richard Shelton, Alexander M. Korsunsky

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Dental caries is a widespread disease that proceeds by damaging superficial tooth enamel by heterogeneous dissolution. Conventional histology identifies different zones within carious lesions by their optical appearance, but fails to quantify the underlying nanoscale structural changes as a function of specific location, impeding better understanding of the demineralisation process. We employ detailed collocative analysis using different imaging modalities, resolutions and fields of view. Focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) reveals subsurface 3D nanostructure within milled micro-sized volumes, whilst X-ray tomography allows minimally destructive 3D imaging over large volumes. Correlative combination of these techniques reveals fine detail of enamel rods, inter-rod substance, sheaths, crystallites and voids as a function of location. The degree of enamel demineralisation within the body of the lesion, near its front, and at the surface is visualized and quantified in 3D. We thus establish the paradigm of dental 3D nano-histology as an advanced platform for quantitative evaluation of caries-induced structural modification.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110829
Number of pages21
JournalMaterials & Design
Early online date8 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Correlative imaging
  • FIB-S(T)EM
  • Human carious enamel
  • Image analysis 2D/3D
  • Light microscopy
  • Synchrotron X-ray tomography


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