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30.06.2017 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2018

Clinical Oral Investigations 2/2018

Chemical composition and morphology study of bovine enamel submitted to different sterilization methods

Clinical Oral Investigations > Ausgabe 2/2018
P. S. Viana, M. O. Orlandi, A. C. Pavarina, A. L. Machado, C. E. Vergani



The morphology and chemical composition of enamel submitted to different sterilization methods was studied.


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), field emission gun scanning electron microscopy (FEG-SEM), and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) were performed to evaluate 50 bovine enamel specimens sterilized using four methods: microwaving (MI), gamma irradiation (GI), ethylene oxide (EO), and steam autoclave (SA). Non-sterilized specimens were used as control.


XPS indicated that the concentration of P (phosphorus), CO3 (carbonate), and CO3/P was not changed in all groups. GI produced no significant change on elemental composition. SA produced the major decrease in calcium (Ca), Ca/P ratio, and increase in N (nitrogen). MI was found to decrease Ca, Ca/P ratio and O (oxygen), and increase in C (carbon) and N. EO produced decrease in Ca and O with increased C concentration. FEG-SEM revealed surface and in-depth morphological changes on SA specimens. Minor surface alterations were observed for EO and for MI groups, and no alteration was observed on GI group. EDS indicated no difference on elemental composition of enamel bulk among groups.


SA produced mineral loss and morphological alterations on surface and in depth. MI and EO sterilization caused mineral loss showing only slight alteration on enamel surface. GI sterilization preserves the morphological characteristics of enamel. The sterilization methods could be classified from lower to high damage as GI < MI < EO < SA.

Clinical relevance

This is a comprehensive comparative study where different methods for enamel sterilization were investigated in terms of chemical changes. The results presented here may help researchers to choose the most appropriate method for their research setting and purpose.

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