Purpose: To examine the etching efficacy of three self-etching systems to unconditioned enamel and to phosphoricacid conditioned enamel using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and to investigate the microtensile bond strength (μTBS) of three self-etching adhesives to unconditioned enamel used according to the manufacturers instructions, on phosphoric-acid conditioned enamel, and when their different adhesives were replaced with a control resin after etching. Materials and Methods: Clearfil SE Bond (CSE), Tyrian SPE/One-Step Plus (TY), and Adper Prompt L-Pop (AD) were employed. Scotchbond Multi-Purpose Plus (SBMP), an etch-and-rinse adhesive, was used as control. For μTBS evaluation, the buccal or lingual mid-coronal enamel of 30 molars was used. In the first group, self-etching adhesives were applied conventionally, according to manufacturers directions (group C). A second group of specimens was etched with 35% phosphoric acid before application of the self-etching adhesives (group PA), and the third group of specimens was etched with the self-etching adhesives, rinsed, but bonded using a control bonding resin (group CR). Following restoration with Z250, they were sectioned into beams (0.8 mm2), and stressed to failure. Data were subjected to two-way ANOVA and Tukeys test. The etching efficacy of the self-etching adhesives, phosphoric acid, and prior phosphoric acid + SE application was evaluated under SEM. Results: All self-etching adhesives applied as recommended by the manufacturers showed lower μTBS values than those obtained in PA and CR groups, although this difference was only significant for TY and AD. The means of all self-etching adhesives under PA and CR groups were similar to SBMP. The enamel conditioned with self-etching adhesive showed a less distinct pattern. CSE exhibited the mildest etching pattern. All self-etching adhesives applied after phosphoric acid exhibited a more retentive etching pattern. Conclusion: The bond strength values of low-pH self-etching adhesives can be improved by the adjunctive use of phosphoric acid or replacement of the bonding resin.
Keywords: self-etching, adhesives, cohesive strength, unconditioned enamel, etching pattern