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06.10.2018 | Original Article Open Access

Micron-scale crack propagation in laser-irradiated enamel and dentine studied with nano-CT

Clinical Oral Investigations
Abtesam Aljdaimi, Hugh Devlin, Mark Dickinson, Timothy Burnett, Thomas J. A. Slater
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00784-018-2654-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The aim of this study was to see the effect of Er:YAG laser irradiation in dentine and compare this with its effect in enamel. The mechanism of crack propagation in dentine was emphasised and its clinical implications were discussed.

Materials and methods

Coronal sections of sound enamel and dentine were machined to 50-μm thickness using a FEI-Helios Plasma (FIB). The specimen was irradiated for 30 s with 2.94-μm Er:YAG laser radiation in a moist environment, using a sapphire dental probe tip, with the tip positioned 2 mm away from the sample surface. One of the sections was analysed as a control and not irradiated. Samples were analysed using the Zeiss Xradia 810 Ultra, which allows high spatial resolution, nanoscale 3D imaging using X-ray computed tomography (CT).


Dentine: In the peritubular dentine, micro-cracks ran parallel to the tubules whereas in the inter-tubular region, the cracks ran orthogonal to the dentinal tubules. These cracks extended to a mean depth of approximately 10 μm below the surface. On the dentine surface, there was preferential ablation of the less mineralised intertubular dentine, and this resulted in an irregular topography associated with tubules.
Enamel: The irradiated enamel surface showed a characteristic ‘rough’ morphology suggesting some preferential ablation along certain microstructure directions. There appears to be very little subsurface damage, with the prismatic structure remaining intact.


A possible mechanism is that laser radiation is transmitted down the dentinal tubules causing micro-cracks to form in the dentinal tubule walls that tend to be limited to this region.

Clinical relevance

Crack might be a source of fracture as it represents a weak point and subsequently might lead to a failure in restorative dentistry.

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