The aim of this paper was to review in vitro and in situ studies that directly compared the use of bovine teeth as a substitute for human teeth in dental experiments. A PubMed search was conducted for papers published from 1953 to December 30, 2010 using the following keywords: "human bovine enamel" or "human bovine dentin" or "human bovine teeth". The abstracts of the studies resulting from the keyword search were read, and all papers that compared human and bovine teeth were fully read. Only original articles written in English and directly comparing human and bovine substrates were included in the review. The search was supplemented by manual searches of the reference lists from each identified paper. Out of 76 studies initially selected, 68 fulfilled the selection criteria for inclusion. The studies covered seven categories: dental morphology, chemical composition, physical properties, dental caries, dental erosion/abrasion, bonding/adhesive strength, and marginal microleakage. Inconsistent data exist regarding whether bovine teeth can be considered an appropriate substitute for human teeth in dental research. Morphological, chemical compostion and physical property differences between the two substrates must be considered when interpreting results obtained from any experiment using bovine tooth substrate.
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