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Scholarly Communication

Defining new dental phenotypes using 3D image analysis to enhance discrimination and insights into biological processes

Smith, Richard; Zaitoun, Halla; Coxon, Thomas; Karmo, Mayada; Kaur, Gurpreet; Townsend, Grant and Brook, Alan (2009) Defining new dental phenotypes using 3D image analysis to enhance discrimination and insights into biological processes. Archives of Oral Biology, 54 (1). S118-S125. ISSN 0003-9969

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Aims: In studying aetiological interactions of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors in normal and abnormal development of the dentition, methods of measurement have often been limited to maximum mesio-distal and bucco-lingual crown diameters, obtained with hand-held calipers. While this approach has led to many important findings, there are potentially many other informative measurements that can be made to describe dental crown morphology. Advances in digital imaging and computer technology now offer the opportunity to define and measure new dental phenotypes in 3D that have the potential to provide better anatomical discrimination and clearer insights into underlying biological processes in dental development. Over recent years, image analysis in 2-D has proved to be a valuable addition to hand-measurement methods but a reliable and rapid 3-D method would increase greatly the morphological information obtainable from natural teeth and dental models. Additional measurements such as crown heights, surface contours, actual surface perimeters and areas, and tooth volumes would maximise our ability to discriminate between samples and to explore more deeply genetic and environmental contributions to observed variation. The research objectives were to investigate the limitations of existing methodologies and to develop and validate new methods for obtaining true 3D measurements, including curvatures and volumes, in order to enhance discrimination to allow increased differentiation in studies of dental morphology and development. The validity of a new methodology for the 3-D measurement of teeth is compared against an established 2-D system. The intra- and inter-observer reliability of some additional measurements, made possible with a 3-D approach, are also tested. Methods and Results: From each of 20 study models, the permanent upper right lateral and upper left central incisors were separated and imaged independently by two operators using 2-D image analysis and a 3-D image analysis system. The mesio-distal (MD), labio-lingual (LL) and inciso-gingival (IG) dimensions were recorded using our 2-D system and the same projected variables were also recorded using a newly-developed 3-D system for comparison. Values of Pearson’s correlation coefficient between measurements obtained using the two techniques were significant at the 0.01 probability level for all but one variable, confirming their comparability. For both 2-D and 3-D systems, except for one variable, intra- and inter-operator reliability was substantial or excellent. Conclusions: We have developed a new 3-D laser scanning system that enables additional dental phenotypes to be defined. It has been validated against an established 2-D system and shown to provide measurements with excellent reliability, both within and between operators. This new approach provides exciting possibilities for exploring how genetic and environmental factors lead to normal and abnormal variations in dental morphology and development.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Issue: December 2009.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Dentition; Morphology; Phenotyping; Measurements; Development
Subjects:R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Dental Sciences
ID Code:486
Deposited On:20 Oct 2009 10:26
Last Modified:07 Feb 2012 16:48

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