Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to study the effects of bleaching on the morphology of the enamel surface with nanoscale resolution. Samples of human tooth enamel with native (pumiced) or fine-polished surfaces were examined before and after bleaching with 30% carbamide peroxide. The obtained profilometric AFM data revealed significant morphological surface alterations. After 1 h of bleaching, the surface roughness increased significantly from 194 nm to 335 nm. Six-hour bleaching did not produce any significant further increase in enamel surface roughness. The interrod junction depth raised more than twice after 1 h of bleaching. After 6 h of bleaching, a further and significant increase in interrod junction depth was recorded. This alteration might be a consequence of oxidation and a subsequent partial lysis of the tooth enamel matrix proteins.
- Enamel matrix alteration