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University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology
MorphoBrowser Alopex lagopus
Open Database
 Selection of teeth


Group Leader
Jukka Jernvall
jukka.jernvall -at-

Institute of Biotechnology
Street address: Viikinkaari 9
(P.O. Box 56)
00014 University of Helsinki

3D Data Acquisition

Tooth shape information in the MorphoBrowser was gathered by a number of methods:

Confocal microscopy: a laser-scanning confocal microscope gathers optical slices of the object in the x-y plane. This builds up a stack of images, where the surface is indicated by a bright signal. The 3D surface can then be reconstructed from the image stack. Confocal microscopy is most useful for small teeth, in the size range of 0.5-4 mm.

3D laser point scanner: the 3D position of individual data points on the surface are gathered using a range-finding point laser. This method is best for larger teeth (>5 mm), but can be used for teeth down to 1 mm in length.

Dr Picza needle scanner: a needle moves over the surface of the object in a regular grid, capturing the height of the surface at each point. This can be used for teeth in the size range of 5-100 mm).

CT imaging: the object is X-rayed from many different angles. A computer is then used to interpolate the object's density at all points within it. The surface of areas with a similar density, such as enamel or dentine, can then be extracted, representing the surface of the tooth. Regular CT machines can very large objects, but micro-CT is more useful for most teeth, being able to deal with teeth 1-20 mm in size.