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Abstract

The prism pattern in the inner enamel of adult rat incisors was studied with the SEM in unfixed tissues that had been sectioned, ground, polished, and etched. Six different types of aberrations in the prism pattern were encountered: 1. Prism lamellae may be shorter than the mesio-lateral width of enamel. 2. Prism lamellae may deviate from a transverse orientation. 3. Prism lamellae may “fuse” or “bifurcate.” 4. Prisms of two adjacent lamellae may pursue a common course. 5. Prisms may change direction. 6. Variations exist in the outline of transversely cut prism profiles. Aberrations were observed at any distance from the dentino-enamel junction.

These observations were used as a basis for an analysis of the movement of ameloblasts during rat incisor amelogenesis. It was concluded that it is physically possible for the ameloblasts to create the observed aberrations as they move along the path of the prisms. However, the aberrations seem to make it more difficult to understand the factors controlling ameloblast movement. Occasionally crystallite bridges connecting adjacent prisms were observed. A configuration resembling a bifurcating prism is presented.