Aggressiveness of contemporary self-etching systems. I: Depth of penetration beyond dentin smear layers

Franklin R. Tay, David H. Pashley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objective: This study examined, with the use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the aggressiveness of three self-etching adhesive systems in penetrating dentin smear layers of different thickness. Methods: Dentin disks were produced from extracted human third molars. For the control group, the middle dentin surface was cryofractured to create a bonding surface that was devoid of a smear layer. The experimental teeth were polished with wet 600 or 60-grit SiC paper to produce bonding surfaces with thin and thick smear layers. They were bonded using one of the three self-etching systems: Clearfil Mega Bond (Kuraray), Non-Rinse Conditioner and Prime&Bond NT (Dentsply DeTrey) and Prompt L-Pop (ESPE). Bonded specimens were then demineralized and embedded in epoxy resin for TEM examination. Results: For Mega Bond, thin authentic hybrid layers between 0.4-0.5 μm were found. Smear layer and smear plugs were retained as part of the hybridized complex. For Non-Rinse Conditioner/Prime&Bond NT, the authentic hybrid layers were between 1.2-2.2 μm thick. Smear layer and smear plugs were completely dissolved in dentin with thin smear layers, but were partially retained as part of the hybridized complex in those with thick smear layers. For Prompt L-Pop, authentic hybrid layers were 2.5-5 μm thick and smear layer and smear plugs were completely dissolved even in dentin with thick smear layers. Significance: Contemporary self-etching systems may be classified as mild, moderate and aggressive based on their ability to penetrate dentin smear layers and their depth of demineralization into the subsurface dentin. The more aggressive system completely solubilized the smear layer and smear plugs and formed hybrid layers with a thickness approaching those of phosphoric acid conditioned dentin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-308
Number of pages13
JournalDental Materials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001



  • Acidity
  • Self-etching primer
  • Smear layer thickness
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials

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