The measurement threshold and limitations of an intra-oral scanner on polished human enamel

Polyvios Charalambous, Saoirse O'Toole, Thomas Bull, David Bartlett, Rupert Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the measurement threshold of an intra-oral scanner (IOS) on polished human enamel.

METHODS: The optical performance of an IOS was compared to a gold-standard non contacting laser profilometer (NCLP), on a painted microscope slide, compared to increasing particle size of silicon-carbide papers (21.8-269.0 μm) and separately on polished human enamel with increasing step-heights. The enamel samples were randomised (n = 80) and scanned using the IOS and NCLP at increasing step-height depths (μm) (1.87-86.46 μm) and quantified according to ISO:5436-1. The measurement threshold of the IOS was determined using a custom designed automated lesion localisation algorithm, corroborated by Gaussian skewness (Ssk) and kurtosis (Sku) analysis, to assess the minimum step-height measured on each enamel sample.

RESULTS: The NCLP showed statistically increased Sq surface roughness for all silicon carbide particle sizes compared to the microscope slide, whereas, the IOS Sq roughness discriminated silicon-carbide particles above 68.0 μm compared to the glass slide (p ≤ 0.02). On polished enamel, the automated minimum detectable step-height measurable on each sample was 44 μm. No statistically significantly different step-height enamel lesion measurements were observed between NCLP and IOS above this threshold (p > 0.05).

SIGNIFICANCE: This study revealed the fundamental optical metrological parameters for the IOS, was step-heights above 44 μm and this reflects the data acquisition of the system. These results highlight the limitations of IOS used in this study, mandating further research to optimise the performance of other IOS systems, for measuring wear of materials or tooth wear on human unpolished natural enamel surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)648-654
Number of pages7
JournalDental Materials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Dental Enamel
  • Humans
  • Surface Properties
  • Tooth Erosion
  • Tooth Wear


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