Three-dimensional mammalian tooth development using diceCT

Qamariya Nasrullah, Marilyn B. Renfree, Alistair R. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aims to develop the Diffusible Iodine-based Contrast-Enhanced CT (diceCT) method for non-destructive imaging of both soft and mineralised tissues. We sought to document the 3D spatio-temporal pattern of mammalian tooth development including multiple tooth classes and generations, using the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) as a model species. 

Design: We took microCT scans of developing fetuses and pouch young stained using Lugol's Iodine (I2KI) contrast agent. Stained versus unstained specimen comparisons were then made to investigate whether staining had improved visualisation of structures. Scan slices were compared to histological sections to confirm the identity of tissues and structures. Tissue layers were digitally segmented to create 3D models. 

Results: DiceCT dramatically enhanced visual contrast of soft tissues, allowing differentiation between epithelial and mesenchymal layers. Subvolume scans at higher magnification achieved single-cell layer resolution within relatively large intact heads. We observed in-situ initiating teeth, which progressed through major stages of tooth development including morphogenesis and mineralisation. In addition, we traced the development of other mineralized and unmineralised tissues, such as the cranial bones and the brain, eye and olfactory system. 

Conclusions: DiceCT was time- and cost-effective in producing complex 3D models of the entire dentition of the tammar wallaby at each developmental stage with tissue-level resolution. The 3D view of soft and mineralised tooth structures allowed us to define tooth class and generation from a developmental perspective. Additionally, the development of other organs can also be documented using the same scans, demonstrating the efficiency and versatility of this technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • 3D Reconstructions
  • Craniofacial development
  • Lugol's iodine
  • Mammalia
  • MicroCT
  • Odontogenesis

Cite this