Scanning Microscopy


Interface between restorative materials and tooth hard substances must be morphologically as perfect as possible to avoid plaque accumulation and subsequent secondary caries or pulpal diseases. Therefore the marginal behavior of restorations is an important parameter to predict their longevity.

Morphologically, the quality of margins is characterized by different well defined criteria. Using a replica technique it is possible to assess the complete marginal circumference of restorations in the SEM. Margins of restorations show a large variety of their morphology. This publication describes a method to quantify the quality of dental restorations.

The restoration margins are traced on the SEM screen with a digitizer and an interface to measure the margin's length. Simultaneously the margin quality is assessed and assigned to the corresponding lengths. The % distribution of the quality criteria for each restoration is then calculated. Using a comparative light microscope, the replicas are aligned and mounted identically in the SEM for longitudinal studies.

The results presented are limited to tests for the accuracy of the method. Using 5 criteria to characterize the margin quality, it was found that the difference between two measurements by the same operator, 4 weeks apart was 3% ± 2.6%. The largest difference for one group was 9%. In another accuracy test where 4 criteria for margin characterization were used, the difference between two measurements was 1.9% ± 0.9%. The largest difference between two groups found was 3.4%.

This method can be used for longitudinal studies in vivo, but also for in vitro screening tests with new materials.

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