Construction of three-dimensional tooth model by micro-computed tomography and application for data sharing


The study of dental morphology is essential in terms of phylogeny. Advances in three-dimensional (3D) measurement devices have enabled us to make 3D images of teeth without destruction of samples. However, raw fundamental data on tooth shape requires complex equipment and techniques. An online database of 3D teeth models is therefore indispensable. We aimed to explore the basic methodology for constructing 3D teeth models, with application for data sharing. Geometric information on the human permanent upper left incisor was obtained using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). Enamel, dentine, and pulp were segmented by thresholding of different gray-scale intensities. Segmented data were separately exported in STereo-Lithography Interface Format (STL). STL data were converted to Wavefront OBJ (OBJect), as many 3D computer graphics programs support the Wavefront OBJ format. Data were also applied to Quick Time Virtual Reality (QTVR) format, which allows the image to be viewed from any direction. In addition to Wavefront OBJ and QTVR data, the original CT series were provided as 16-bit Tag Image File Format (TIFF) images on the website. In conclusion, 3D teeth models were constructed in general-purpose data formats, using micro-CT and commercially available programs. Teeth models that can be used widely would benefit all those who study dental morphology.

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We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Masahito Natsuhara of Shimadzu Corporation for assistance with the micro-computed tomography system. This work was supported by a grant-in-aid for the “High-Tech Research Center” Project for Private Universities, with a matching fund subsidy from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, 2003-2007 (no. 2003).

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Correspondence to A. Kato.

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Kato, A., Ohno, N. Construction of three-dimensional tooth model by micro-computed tomography and application for data sharing. Clin Oral Invest 13, 43–46 (2009).

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  • Tooth morphology
  • Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT)
  • Three-dimensional tooth model
  • Data sharing