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Q U I N T E S S E N C E I N T E R N AT I O N A L

Influence of polishing instruments on


the surface texture of resin composites
Tamayo Watanabe, DDS1/Masashi Miyazaki, DDS, PhD2/
B. Keith Moore, PhD3
Objective: There is a need for an ideal polishing system for resin composite restorations.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of polishing instruments on the
surface texture of light-cured resin composites. Methods and materials: Four polishing systemsCompomaster (Shofu), Silicone Points C Type (Shofu), Super-Snap (Shofu), and
Enhance Finishing and Polishing System (Dentsply/DeTrey)were used to polish the flat
surface of cylindrical blocks made of 3 different resin composites: Beautifil (Shofu),
Clearfil AP-X (Kuraray Medical), and Lite-Fil II A (Shofu). The average surface roughness
(Ra) and surface gloss (Gs60) were determined. Scanning electron microscopic observations of the polished specimens were made. The polished samples were immersed in a
0.3% acid rhodamine B solution for 1 week, and change in color was determined.
Results: The multiple-step systems, Enhance and Super-Snap, resulted in the best surface
finishes. A new single-step point, Compomaster, ranked third in surface finish but was significantly better than the older point system, Silicone Points C. The color-staining experiments showed that there were no significant differences between the Compomaster system and the multiple-step systems, which were all significantly better than the older polishing point. Conclusion: The newly introduced 1-step polishing point has the ability to polish
resin composites as effectively as multistep polishing systems.
(Quintessence Int 2006;37:6167)

Key words: polishing, resin composite, staining, surface gloss, surface roughness

After resin composite is placed into a cavity,


the surface of the restoration has to be polished and finished. Proper polishing of
restorations minimizes possible gingival irritation, surface staining, plaque accumula-

Junior Instructor, Department of Operative Dentistry, Nihon


University, School of Dentistry, Tokyo, Japan.

Professor, Department of Operative Dentistry, Nihon


University, School of Dentistry, Tokyo, Japan.

Professor,

Indiana

University

School

of

Dentistry,

Department of Restorative Dentistry, Division of Dental


Materials, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Reprint requests: Dr Masashi Miyazaki, Department of
Operative Dentistry, Nihon University School of Dentistry, 1-813, Kanda-Surugadai, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 101-8310, Japan.
Fax +81 3-3219-8347. E-mail: miyazaki-m@dent.nihon-u.ac.jp

tion, and secondary caries.15 Esthetic


appearance of a restoration depends on the
quality of the polishing and finishing techniques employed. The appearance of the
restoration is also affected by the degree of
surface gloss after polishing6 and is based
on the light reflected from the restoration.
The incident light beam is reflected from the
surface of the restoration, which is composed of numerous minute, flat surfaces.
With an increase in surface roughness of the
restoration, the degree of random reflection
of the light increases, resulting in decreased
gloss. A smooth and glossy surface is the
final objective of any polishing procedure.7
Increased demands for superior esthetics
have encouraged improvements in finishing

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Q U I N T E S S E N C E I N T E R N AT I O N A L
Wat anabe et al

Ta b l e 1

Resin composites used

Composite

Shade

Base resin

Filler
size (m)

Filler
contents (wt%)

Manufacturer

Beautifil
Clearfil AP-X
Lite-Fil IIA

A3
A3
A3

Bis-GMA
Bis-GMA
UDMA

1.0
3.0
2.7

81.5
85.5
84.0

Shofu
Kuraray Medical
Shofu

(bis-GMA) biphenyl dimethacrylate; (UDMA) urethane dimethacrylate.

and polishing systems.810 The clinical


demand for these systems is to achieve a
smooth and glossy surface in a few simple
steps. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of polishing systems on
the surface characteristics of resin composites. The hypothesis was that a newly introduced 1-step polishing point is as effective
as multistep polishing systems in terms of
smoothness, gloss, and discoloration.

METHODS AND MATERIALS


The resin composites used in this study are
listed in Table 1. Cylindrical blocks of lightcured resin composite, 10 mm in diameter
and 5 mm in depth, were prepared in a
Teflon mold. The resin composites were
inserted and pressed into the mold, then
polymerized with a curing unit (Optilux 400,
Demetron/Kerr) for 40 seconds through
Mylar strips on both sides of the specimen.
The light intensity of the curing unit was
adjusted to 600 mW/cm2 as measured with
a dental radiometer (Model 100, Demetron/
Kerr). The resin blocks were finished to a uniform surface using 600-grit silicone carbide
paper (standard finished surface) with tap
water. After 24 hours, each specimen group
received a different surface preparation.
Five samples from each of the 3 resin
composites were polished using 1 of the following 4 polishing systems:
1. The specimen surface was polished with
a Compomaster (No. 13S, Shofu), composed of 6-m diamond-particle-impregnated rubber, for 30 seconds without
water spray.

62

2. The specimen surface was polished with a


Silicone Point C (No. 13S, Shofu) composed of 25-m zirconium-particle-impregnated rubber for 30 seconds without water
spray.
3. The Super-Snap Rainbow Technique Kit
(Shofu) contained disks of 4 different
grits. In this study, the last 2 grits, fine
(green, 20-m aluminum oxideparticleimpregnated disk) and superfine (red, 7m aluminum oxideparticle-impregnated disk) were each used for 30 seconds
on each specimen surface (total polishing
time 60 seconds) without water spray. The
specimens were rinsed between the polishing steps.
4: For intermediate finishing, an Enhance
Finishing Point (Dentsply/Caulk), composed of 40-m aluminum oxide particles, was used for 30 seconds without
water spray. A foam polishing cup was
used with Prisma Gloss Composite
Polishing Paste (1-m aluminum oxide),
and then a new foam polishing cup was
used with Prisma Gloss Extra Fine
Composite Polishing Paste (0.3-m aluminum oxide) for 30 seconds each (total
polishing time 90 seconds). The specimens were rinsed between polishing
steps.
A slow-speed handpiece (5,000 rpm),
with a contact pressure of 1.0 N monitored
by a digital balance (AT200, Mettler) underneath the specimen, was used for all
polishing.
After completion of polishing procedures,
the specimens were rinsed with tap water,
cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner for 3 minutes, and air dried. The surface roughness of
the specimen was measured using a surface

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Q U I N T E S S E N C E I N T E R N AT I O N A L
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profilometer (Surfcoder SE-30H, Kosaka


Laboratory), with a standard cutoff of 0.8
mm, a transverse length of 8.0 mm, and a
stylus speed of 0.1 mm/s. The roughness
average (Ra) of a specimen was defined as
the arithmetic average height of roughness
component irregularities from the mean line
measured within the sampling length. Three
profilometer tracings were made near the
center of each specimen, and the numerical
average was determined for each group.
Surface gloss of the specimen was measured using a gloss meter (VGS-1S, Nippon
Denshoku). The gloss meter was calibrated
to a standard board (Gs60 = 89.0%), then
the specimens were placed in a light-tight
box. The specular gloss was calculated
based on the ratio between the reflected light
from the sample surface and the reflected
light from the standard surface at an angle of
60 degrees measuring geometry. Five measurements were done for each specimen.
After the evaluations of surface roughness and gloss, initial color of each specimen was determined using a spectrophotometer (CM-2002, Minolta) calibrated with a
white standard (X = 93.39, Y = 95.31, Z =
112.46). The tristimulus values (X, Y, and Z)
of the specimens were transformed to
CIELAB values (L*a*b*). Then the specimens were immersed into 0.3% acid rhodamine B (Wako Pure Chemical Industries)
solution for 1 week. After immersion, the
specimens were rinsed with tap water for 15
minutes and dried with oil-free compressed
air, followed by color measurement. Color
difference values (E, L*a*b*) measured
between baseline and after immersion in the
solutions were calculated as the amount of
discoloration.
Representative samples of the different
polishing systems for each resin composite
were coated in a vacuum evaporator with a
thin film of gold and then observed with
scanning electron microscopy (SEM) (JSM5400, JEOL).
The results were analyzed by calculating
the mean and standard deviation for each
group. The data for each material were tested for homogeneity of variance using

VOLUME 37

Bartletts test and then subjected to an analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by


Duncans multiple-range tests at a P value of
.05. The strength of the association between
pairs of variables was obtained by the use of
Pearson product moment correlation. The
statistical analysis was carried out with the
Sigma Stat software system (SPSS).

RESULTS
Mean and standard deviations of surface
roughness (Ra, m), surface gloss (Gs60),
and color difference (E, L*a*b*) are listed
in Table 2.
Super-Snap consistently showed the lowest Ra value for all the resin composites tested, followed by Enhance, Compomaster, and
Silicone Points C. The results of the surface
gloss of the resin composites had a tendency to correspond to those values of surface
roughness. Compomaster produced the
third-ranked surfaces, but they were judged
visually to be clinically acceptable. Though
the values of surface roughness and gloss
seemed to be dependent on the resin composites used as well as the polishing system
employed, a clear relationship between surface roughness and gloss was found (correlation coefficient = 0.820, P = .001).
Discoloration (E, L*a*b*) of the specimen from contact with the die solution was
less with the use of Enhance System for all
resin composites used, followed by
Compomaster, Super-Snap, and Silicone
Points C. The regression analysis showed no
correlation between surface roughness and
color difference (correlation coefficient =
0.191, P = .553) or between surface gloss
and color difference (correlation coefficient =
0.0953, P = .768).
SEM pictures are presented in Figs 1 to 3
for visual comparison of surface texture after
polishing. Polished surfaces with the
Compomaster and Super-Snap systems
were smoother compared to those with the
Silicone Point C. With the use of Enhance

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Ta b l e 2

Effect of polishing procedures on surface roughness (Ra, m), surface


gloss (Gs60), and color difference (E, L*a*b*) of resin composites
(mean and SD)

Composite/
polishing system

Beautifil
Compomaster
Silicone Points C Type
Super-Snap
Enhance System
Clearfil AP-X
Compomaster
Silicone Points C Type
Super-Snap
Enhance System
Lite-Fil IIA
Compomaster
Silicone Points C Type
Super-Snap
Enhance System

E (L*a*b*)

Ra, m

Gs60

0.191 (0.054)
0.340 (0.038)
0.045 (0.005)
0.104 (0.018)

70.9 (3.7)
31.8 (2.8)
76.6 (2.8)
87.1 (3.6)

29.6 (2.4)
43.3 (3.6)
32.6 (3.2)
25.8 (2.1)

0.164 (0.019)
0.450 (0.065)
0.071 (0.011)
0.121 (0.015)

59.2 (3.7)
34.3 (2.1)
62.0 (2.8)
86.2 (3.3)

11.1 (1.6)
25.0 (1.8)
16.2 (1.7)
10.5 (0.6)

0.361 (0.036)
0.412 (0.018)
0.097 (0.010)
0.196 (0.042)

34.3 (1.8)
25.5 (1.1)
52.7 (1.7)
41.1 (1.6)

11.2 (0.9)
25.6 (1.2)
19.3 (0.9)
25.8 (2.1)

Values connected by lines are not significantly different (P > .05).

Fig 1 Scanning electron micrographs of Beautifil polished with (a) Compomaster, (b) Enhance System, (c)
Silicone Point C Type, and (d) Super-Snap (original magnification 750).

64

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Fig 2 Scanning electron micrographs of Clearfil AP-X polished with (a) Compomaster, (b) Enhance System, (c)
Silicone Point C Type, and (d) Super-Snap (original magnification 750).

Fig 3 Scanning electron micrographs of Lite-Fil IIA polished with (a) Compomaster, (b) Enhance System, (c)
Silicone Point C Type, and (d) Super-Snap (original magnification 750).

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System, the SEM pictures show exposed


filler particles with a smoother surface.

DISCUSSION
Esthetics and longevity of resin composite
restorations depends on proper finishing and
polishing techniques.11,12 The surface roughness of the restoration is determined by the
mechanical properties of the resin composites as well as the flexibility, hardness, and
grit size of the polishing material.1316 The polishing time is recognized to be important
and the effect of delayed polishing procedures on surface roughness appears to be
dependent on both the material and the polishing procedure.17 To polish the resin composite effectively, an abrasive should remove
the matrix resin as well as cut the relatively
harder filler particles. Compomaster and
Silicone Points C are point-shape abrasives
that contain 6-m diamond and 25-m zirconium particles, respectively. Super-Snap
uses polishing disks attached by a polymeric
collar with 4 different grits of abrasive.
Because the purpose of this study was to
compare the polished surface of resin composites, the disks with 20-m (green, fine)
and 7-m (red, superfine) aluminum oxide
particles were used. Enhance System combines an abrasive point with 40-m aluminum oxide and a foam polishing cup used
with 2 different polishing pastes (1.0- and 0.3m aluminum oxide particles).
In this study, Super-Snap created the
smoothest surface (minimum Ra value) for all
the resin composites used. Since the resin
surface employed in this study was flat, it
might be easy to create a smoother surface
with the disk-type polishing system. The ability to produce a smooth surface with the use
of the aluminum oxide disks depends on
their cutting filler particles and matrix resin
equally. Although the minimum Ra value was
obtained with the use of Super-Snap, surface-gloss measurements indicated that the
Enhance System produced the best
reflectance of the resin composites, except
for Lite-Fil IIA.

66

From the SEM pictures of the polished


surfaces, relatively smoother surfaces with
small scratches and pitting were observed
for the Super-Snap groups. On the other
hand, the surfaces of resin composites polished with Enhance revealed smoother surfaces with protruding filler particles, particularly for Lite-Fil IIA. Final polishing with polishing pastes removed resin matrix selectively, resulting in higher Ra values and glossier
surfaces compared to those obtained with
Super-Snap. When Silicone Point C was
applied, scratches were seen on the surface
of the resin composites. Since Compomaster
contains small-size diamond particles that
can cut the filler particles of resin composites, relatively smoother surfaces were
obtained with this system compared to those
polished with Silicone Point C.
In clinical situations, resin composites are
usually polished and exposed to the oral
environment immediately after placement.
Color stability is critical to the esthetics of the
restoration.18,19 A number of factors contribute to discoloration of resin composites
from extrinsic staining by colored solutions
such as coffee, tea, and cigarette smoke.2022
Although Compomaster produced the thirdranked surface roughness and gloss, the
color stability for staining was as good as
with Enhance System. Not only the surface
roughness of resin composites but also other
factors such as the resin matrix might influence surface discoloration. Base resin
monomers employed are 1 of the important
factors for discoloration, since they relate to
the water sorption rate of the resin composites.23,24 The degree of conversion of the resin
composites, which relates to the 3-dimensional structure of the restoration, is another
important factor determining the degree of
staining.18,25
Polishing procedures using disks are not
always ideal because they are not flexible
enough to access all the surfaces of natural
tooth structure. The planer motion of the
disks tends to create smoother flat surfaces,26 but it is sometimes difficult to polish
anatomically contoured surfaces.9 With the
use of polishing paste, the resin matrix is
selectively abraded, and the filler particles
are exposed or even pulled out, resulting in

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increasing surface roughness.15 Polishing


systems utilizing disks and polishing pastes
require several steps and more time to complete the polishing of resin composites. In
consideration of all the above, polishing
instruments having various shapes and,
used with a single step, might be useful in
clinical situations for more consistent polishing quality of resin composite.

7. Inokoshi S, Burrow MF, Kataumi M, Yamada T,


Takatsu T. Opacity and color changes of tooth-colored restorative materials. Oper Dent 1996;21:
7380.
8. Setcos JC, Tarim B, Suzuki S. Surface finish produced
on resin composites by new polishing systems.
Quintessence Int 1999;30:169173.
9. Krejci I, Lutz F, Boretti R. Resin composite polishingFilling the gaps. Quintessence Int 1999;30:
490495.
10. Lutz F, Setcos JC, Phillips RW. New finishing instruments for composite resins. J Am Dent Assoc 1983;
107:575580.

CONCLUSIONS

11. Jefferies SR. The art and science of abrasive finish-

From the results of this study, the smoothest


surface was obtained with Super-Snap for all
the resin composites tested, followed by
Enhance System, Compomaster, and Silicone
Point C Type. The regression analysis
showed a clear relationship between surface
roughness and gloss, but no correlation
between surface roughness and color difference or between surface gloss and color difference. Although the smoothest composite
surface was obtained with the multistep polishing system, the 1-step polishing point
composed of diamond particleimpregnated rubber produced a clinically acceptable
smooth surface.

12. Goldstein RE. Finishing of composites and lami-

ing and polishing in restorative dentistry. Dent Clin


North Am 1998;42:613627.
nates. Dent Clin North Am 1989;33:305318.
13. Hoelscher DC, Neme AM, Pink FE, Hughes PJ. The
effect of three finishing systems on four esthetic
restorative materials. Oper Dent 1998;23:3642.
14. Roeder LB,Tate WH, Powers JM. Effect of finishing and
polishing procedures on the surface roughness of
packable composites. Oper Dent 2000;25:534543.
15. Tate WH, Powers JM. Surface roughness of composites and hybrid ionomers. Oper Dent 1996;21:
5358.
16. Marigo L, Rizzi M, La Torre G, Rumi G. 3-D surface
profile analysis: Different finishing methods for
resin composites. Oper Dent 2001;26:562568.
17. Yap AU, Sau CW, Lye KW. Effects of finishing/polishing time on surface characteristics of toothcoloured restoratives. J Oral Rehabil 1998;25:
456461.
18. Hosoya Y. Five-year color changes of light-cured
resin composites: Influence of light-curing times.

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