Since the mid-1990s resin composite has been used for Class II restorations in stress-bearing areas as an alternative to amalgam. Reasons for this were the patients’ fear of mercury in dental amalgam and a growing demand for aesthetic restorations. During the last decades, the use of new resin composites with more optimized filler loading have resulted in reduced clinical wear. Improved and simplified amphiphilic bonding systems have been introduced. However, one of the main problems with resin composites, its polymerization shrinkage, has not been solved yet. During the polymerization of the resin composites, they shrink as a result of the conversion of the monomers into rigid polymers by a radical addition reaction. The resulting shrinkage stresses in the bonded resin composite restorations may cause adhesive failures at the resin composite/tooth structure interface and/or cohesive failures within the tooth or the resin composite. The interfacial failures may result in post-operative sensitivity, recurrent caries or pulpal injury. This thesis evaluates different restorative and light-curing techniques that are proposed to reduce the polymerization shrinkage and also the effect of new lightcuring units, light-emitting diodes (LED) and high-power quartz tungsten halogen (QTH) light on curing depth and degree of conversion of resin composites. Two restorative techniques using a polyacid-modified resin composite or a flowable resin composite in combination with conventional resin composite in sandwich restorations were evaluated in an intraindividual comparison with a conventional resin composite restoration. The durability of the polyacid-modified resin composite sandwich technique was investigated in a three year clinical follow-up study. A scanning electron microscope replica method was used for evaluation of the interfacial adaptation in vivo of both sandwich combinations. The depth of cure of the flowable resin composite was evaluated with the use of Wallace hardness testing. Degree of conversion for resin composite cured with the new LED units was evaluated with Fourier Transform Raman spectroscopy.
Major results and conclusions from the studies are:
• Neither the sandwich restoration with polyacid-modified resin composite nor the flowable resin composite improved the interfacial adaptation of the restorations.
• No difference in durability was found between the sandwich restorations with polyacidmodified resin composite or the resin composite restorations. A low failure rate was observed for both types of restorations after a clinical observation time of three years.
• The depth of cure of the flowable resin composite was higher than the depth of cure of the resin composite. It was found that the curing time of the resin composite studied could be reduced or the increment layer thickness increased compared to earlier recommendations.
• LED curing units of the latest generation were able to cure resin composites to a higher degree of conversion than the control QTH unit
• The use of soft-start curing did not improve the interfacial adaptation of neither of resin composite restorations tested.