Estimation of the enamel and dentin mineral content from the refractive index

I. Hariri, A. Sadr, S. Nakashima, Y. Shimada, J. Tagami, Y. Sumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


Recent advances in the field of optics have enabled accurate and localized measurement of optical properties of biological substrates. This work aimed to elucidate the relationship between the local refractive index (n) and mineral content (MC) of enamel and dentin. De-and remineralized lesions in bovine enamel and dentin blocks were sectioned into 300-to 400-μm-thick slices, and placed on a metal plate to capture images of sound, de-and remineralized regions transversely by optical coherence tomography. Mean n at each depth level of the lesion (20-or 40-μm steps for enamel or dentin) was measured by the optical path length-matching method and used to plot n through lesion depth. The specimens were further polished and processed for transverse microradiography for analysis of MC. The n and MC ranged from 1.52 to 1.63 and 50 to 87 (vol.%) in enamel, and from 1.43 to 1.57 and 11 to 48 (vol.%) in dentin, respectively. Strong, positive linear correlations were found between n and MC (Pearson's r = 0.95 and 0.91 for de-and remineralized enamel, and r = 0.94 and 0.91 for dentin, respectively, p < 0.001). Experimental data were validated with a theoretical calculation of n from MC. De-and remineralization of enamel and dentin resulted in measurable changes of n, and, in turn, MC changes of the tissue could be estimated with good accuracy from this long-known optical property by the new analytical approach. Compositional changes of enamel crystallites after remineralization affect n.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalCaries Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Caries detection
  • Demineralization
  • Image analysis
  • Lasers
  • Remineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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