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Therametric Technologies, Inc. Pushing the Envelope of Dental Innovation with SEM

Therametric Technologies, Inc. is a leading pioneer in dental product testing and research. For over two decades, this trusted industry partner has advanced dental care through meticulous science, providing the expertise that dental manufacturers depend on to validate product performance and safety. To reaffirm their commitment to unpacking dental excellence from the bottom up, Therametric is now equipped with a Phenom Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) to delve deep into dental microstructures, functionality, and composition – moving well beyond the limits of what they could do with only light microscopy.

Motivation for the Scientific Study of Teeth

But what are teeth? Generally speaking, they are living calcified structures designed for essential functions like crushing, grinding, gnashing, and biting. Our mouths are both entranceways for nourishment and mechanisms for language, enabled by a complex oral ecosystem where solid bone meets soft tissue. What we see on the surface – the visible crowns of teeth – comprise only a fraction of this system, exhibiting aesthetic appeal and contributing to positive social experiences and a confident self-image.

Beneath the mineralized enamel exterior of a tooth are more layers of structures that comprise a complex and resilient system, conferring supportive and protective properties so teeth can withstand the daily onslaught of threats we engender from acids, sugars, abrasions, impacts, and temperature extremes. The daily threats confronting teeth demand diligent prevention and protective care – a regimen usually in the form of brushing, flossing, fluoride treatments, and regular dental cleanings to help maintain structural integrity and health over a lifetime of use. But before any new product can hit store shelves or make bold marketing claims, rigorous research and testing must substantiate them to ensure each one yields the maximum efficacy for users. As such, researchers and companies like Therametric devote great efforts toward understanding dental threats at a deeper level and then engineering a myriad of solutions from the knowledge gained there.

A Quest for Dental Excellence

Therametric performs a diverse array of critical services across the entire oral care product development pipeline. From product testing for clients to clinical research to optimizing original formulations, their comprehensive capabilities make them a trusted, full-service partner of major and minor brands alike. With a qualified-laboratory status from the American Dental Association (ADA), precise protocols, and controlled testing, Therametric harmoniously merges knowledge, expert personnel, and instrumentation to advance dental health through science and help bring oral care treatments from concept to market.

“The Phenom SEM is a high-resolution imaging solution that boosts efficiency without sacrificing quality.”

Therametric Technologies, Inc.

The Impact of Scanning Electron Microscopy for Oral Care Science

Dentin Studies with Phenom Desktop SEM

The sensitive dentin layer of teeth lies beneath the enamel, permeated by tiny tubules that transmit pain stimuli. SEM images expose whether dental products successfully (or unsuccessfully) block exposed tubules. The dramatic greyscale views of SEM micrographs clearly show tubule status in dentin before and after treatment with occluding toothpaste solutions, with one such example from Therametric displayed below:

This sample is of human dentin shown in three states. The first of the states is natural, ‘as-is’ dentin where intact tubules mineralized with apatite are clearly seen. This natural dentin morphology facilitates sensation and nutrition of the tooth interior. The middle SEM image is demineralized dentin, which means the mineral is removed from the dentin surface and from within the top of the tubules themselves. Here, pronounced open tubules due to the loss of this mineral result in more exposure and dentin hypersensitivity. The last image on the right is the same dentin except now treated with an occluding anti-sensitivity toothpaste. The dentin tubules appear occluded by deposited particulate material that acts to block fluid movement and insulate sensory nerves, thereby reducing the overall sensitivity one would feel. With the Phenom Desktop SEM in their hands, Therametric can assess the degree of tubule occlusion and characterize toothpaste effects on dentin morphology.

Enamel Studies with Phenom Desktop SEM

SEM also enables detailed morphological study of enamel by uncovering progressive structural degradation from acidic or abrasive threats over time. With this knowledge, Therametric guides the development of preventive formulations to withstand a range of different oral conditions.

Additionally, Phenom Desktop SEMs have the capacity to characterize elemental composition with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) – a technique that detects characteristic X-rays emitted by the sample at high spatial resolution. At Therametric, measuring mineral content through calcium-phosphate ratios helps assess the extent of enamel demineralization, where formulations can then be tailored to enhance remineralization capabilities.


With SEM visualization and analysis added to their technical arsenal, Therametric can propel progress across efficacy and safety testing, pioneering R&D, and rigorous clinical studies – to reveal the microscopic factors that impact oral health and hygiene. Easy sample loading and intuitive software of their Phenom Desktop SEM make SEM analysis accessible for all technicians, not just microscopists. The powerful abilities such as high-resolution imaging, integrated EDS, and fast imaging are perfectly suited for Therametric’s high throughput testing environment. Breakthroughs achieved through the knowledge gained from high-resolution imaging will translate to tangible dental product innovations that better serve patient and consumer needs.

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