This study examined the influence of different light-curing units (LCUs) and exposure times on the microhardness across bulk-fill resin-based composite (RBC) restorations in a molar tooth.
Tip diameter, radiant power, radiant exitance, emission spectra, and light beam profile were measured on two single-emission-peak LCUs (Celalux 3 and DeepCure-S) and two multiple-peak LCUs (Bluephase 20i and Valo Grand). A mold was made using a human molar that had a 12-mm mesial-distal length, a 2.5-mm deep occlusal box, and two 4.5-mm deep proximal boxes. Two bulk-fill RBCs (Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior and Tetric EvoCeram Bulk Fill) were photoactivated for 10 seconds and for 20 seconds, with the light guide positioned at the center of the occlusal surface. Microhardness was then measured across the transverse surface of the restorations. The light that reached the bottom of the proximal boxes was examined. Data were statistically analyzed with the Student t-test, two-way analysis of variance, and the Tukey post hoc test (α=0.05).
The four LCUs were different regarding all the tested characteristics. Even when using LCUs with wide tips and a homogeneous beam profile, there were significant differences in the microhardness results obtained at the central and proximal regions of the RBCs (p<0.05). LCUs with wider tips used for 20 seconds produced higher microhardness values (p<0.05). The multiple-peak LCUs produced greater hardness values in Tetric EvoCeram Bulk Fill than did the single-emission-peak LCUs (Celalux 3 and DeepCure-S). Results for the light measured at the bottom of proximal boxes showed that little light reached these regions when the light tip was positioned at the center of restorations.
Curing lights with wide tips, homogeneous light beam profiles, and longer exposure times are preferred when light-curing large MOD restorations. Light curing from more than one position may be required for adequate photopolymerization.