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Evaluation of X-ray Microanalysis for Characterization of Dental Enamel

Journal article
Authors Lisa Melin
Jörgen G Norén
Fabian Taube
David H. Cornell
Published in Microscopy and Microanalysis
Volume 20
Issue 1
Pages 257-267
ISSN 1431-9276
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Odontology
Department of Earth Sciences
Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 257-267
Language en
Keywords bovine, enamel, scanning electron microscope, elemental analysis, glass, XRMA
Subject categories Biomaterials, Paedodontics, Pediatrics


Elemental analysis of dental hard tissues is of importance and especially regarding enamel with developmental disturbances. The aim of this study was to evaluate XRMA analysis of bovine enamel in a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with different coatings using a low-vacuum technique. The buccal surface of mandibular bovine incisors was polished flat and one third was coated with carbon, one third with gold, leaving one third uncoated for XRMA analysis in a SEM equipped with an EDS microanalysis system. The elements oxygen, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, chlorine, potassium and calcium were analysed using their respective characteristic K X-ray series. Comparisons were also made with analyses of glass produced by fusion of the bovine enamel, which showed that oxygen analyses using the K X-ray series are reliable and preferable to calculating oxygen by stoichiometry for natural enamel. For the gold-coated and uncoated analyses, carbon was also measured using the K X-ray series. Small area (10 micron square) analyses in VP-SEM mode with low vacuum, without any coating midway between 40 micron wide gold lines 140 microns apart to avoid build-up of electrostatic charge is the preferred method, especially if C is included in the analysis. The analyses of bovine enamel are sufficiently reproducible to be regarded as quantitative for all elements except carbon.

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