New approach to quantifying developmental variation in the dentition using serial microtomographic imaging

Gal Avishai, Ralph Müller, Yankel Gabet, Itai Bab, Uri Zilberman, Patricia Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Dental morphogenesis and cellular differentiation are expressed in the fully formed tooth by the topography of the dentin-enamel junction and outer enamel surface. These boundaries can be differentiated using a variety of imaging systems. In this study, we used serial microCT imaging to provide accurate 3D reconstructions of developing lower human second deciduous molars. These were used to quantify the volume of enamel and dentin of individual cusps in relation to basal crown height. As growth and differentiation proceed apically, the spatial orientation of cusp tips and their bases were used to estimate their order of initiation and coalescence. We found that the order of coalescence differed from the order of initiation. We also found that dentin cusp height and volume as well as rate and quantity of enamel apposition varied along mesio-distal and bucco-lingual axes, and were independent of order of initiation and duration of growth. These results demonstrate that the potential for variation in crown size and form is maintained throughout development. We propose that the microCT model developed in this study constitutes a new approach for the investigation of developmental variation and its contribution to phylogenetic variation expressed in crown form and size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Deciduous molar
  • Serial microtomographic imaging
  • Tooth development


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