Scanning electron microscopic characterization of dental calculus in human teeth

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Ratthapong Worawongvasu
Nathaporn Littilertanakorn
Pornwanuch Suksirimuch
Pimsunee Lowpradit
Wipawee Sattanan
Sukontha Khamdi


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the surface changes of dental calculus in human teeth by scanning electron microscope.

Materials and methods: Fifteen human maxillary permanent molar teeth and fifteen mandibular incisor teeth with dental calculus from 30 patients requiring tooth extraction, one tooth from each patient, were used in this study. The specimens were collected from private dental clinics and hospitals in Bangkok and other provinces. After extractions, all teeth were stored in 10% formalin until required. After the teeth were rinsed under running tap water, each tooth was then sectioned using Micro Cutting Instrument, Isomet Low-speed Saw, Buehler, Illinois, USA. Small blocks of the areas of the teeth with dental  calculi were removed from the selected areas using a water-cooled bur in a dental handpiece. Each block  was immersed in a 5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution for 24 h at room temperature to remove soft tissue  or organic substances and then rinsed thoroughly in distilled water, and then dehydrated in a series of graded ethyl alcohol (2 changes, 15 min each): 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 95%, 100% and dried by leaving the specimens at room temperature for 24 hours. After drying, the specimens were mounted on aluminum stubs, coated with gold, thickness of 100-300 Å, with an ion sputter coater, and viewed with a JEOL JSM-6610LV scanning electron microscope, Japan at six magnifications: X20, X200, X1,000, X2,000, X10,000  and X20,000. The photomicrographs were described. Representative electron micrographs were selected for presentation in this paper.

Results: At low magnifications, the surface characteristics of the dental calculi in human teeth appeared pitted with some bacilli and cocci on the surfaces. At high magnifications, calcified bacteria were found. Globular crystals were deposited in between the pits. These crystals were deposited to become larger calcified masses which were irregularly shaped. There were various forms of crystal growths: needle-like or elongated, cuboidal, and different shapes and sizes of platelet forms.  

Conclusions: By scanning electron microscopic study, the surface characteristics of the dental calculi deposited on the human maxillary permanent molar teeth and mandibular incisor teeth are the same.


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Worawongvasu R, Littilertanakorn N, Suksirimuch P, Lowpradit P, Sattanan W, Khamdi S. Scanning electron microscopic characterization of dental calculus in human teeth. M Dent J [Internet]. 2018 Mar. 20 [cited 2023 Dec. 5];38(1):71-7. Available from:
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