Purpose: To measure dimensional changes due to hygroscopic expansion and their effect on interface gaps and sealing in four light-cured restorative materials using an original confocal microscopic methodology.
Materials and Methods: The materials tested were an ormocer (Admira [Voco]), a compomer (Dyract AP [Dentsply]), a hybrid composite (Spectrum [Dentsply]), and a nanohybrid composite (Esthet·X [Dentsply]). Water sorption was evaluated by weighing material disks after immersion. Hygroscopic expansion was measured from volumetric variations of material fillings in cylindrical cavities in dentin slices; the interfacial gap size was obtained from the same cavities using a novel confocal microscopic method. Microleakage was evaluated in cavities prepared in extracted third molars. Measurements followed water immersion for 24 h, 1 week, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. A factorial ANOVA, the Student Newman Keuls test for post-hoc comparisons, the Students t-test, and the Pearson test were used for the statistical analysis (p < 0.05).
Results: Positive correlations were found among water sorption, hygroscopic expansion, and sealing. Hygroscopic expansion reduced post-polymerization interfacial gaps and improved cavity sealing. Dyract AP and Admira showed the highest water sorption, hygroscopic expansion, and gap size reduction.
Conclusions: 1. The proposed methodology is valid to measure hygroscopic expansion and interfacial gap. 2. Water sorption and hygroscopic expansion are positively correlated, and hygroscopic expansion, gap size, and sealing are also positively correlated. 3. The adhesive influences the interfacial gap size and its variation after hygroscopic expansion. 4. Hygroscopic expansion reduces the interfacial gaps generated by polymerization shrinkage and improves cavity sealing.
Keywords: restorative material, adhesive, hygroscopic expansion, interfacial gap, sealing, confocal microscopy