The polymerization shrinkage of resin composites may affect restoration quality. A double blind, randomized clinical trial was carried out to compare two curing techniques - Soft-Start (SS) and the plasma arc curing light (PAC). The hypothesis that, delaying the gel point (with SS) improves marginal seal, was tested at alpha=0.05. Also, this report includes two-week, three-month, one-year and two-year results for post-op sensitivity. Twenty informed participants, each needing two Class II and/or complex Class I restorations, gave written consent. All the teeth were trans-illuminated to rule out pre-op crack lines before restoration placement. Fifty Z100-Single Bond restorations (25/SS and 25/PAC) were placed under rubber dam. Protocols: PAC (Control) - incremental curing <2.0 mm, 2000 mW/cm2 for 10 seconds for all layers, SS (Treatment) - incremental curing <2.0 mm, 600 mW/cm2 for 20 seconds, except the final layer or enamel replacement increment, which was cured as follows - (mW/cm2/time) 200/3 seconds, wait 3 minutes; 200/3 seconds, wait 5 minutes; 600/20 seconds from multiple angles. Sensitivity to a standardized cold stimulus was performed preoperatively at 2 weeks and at 3,12 and 24 months. Patients rated their sensitivity after stimulus by means of a Visual Analog Scale (VAS). In addition, two independent, calibrated investigators evaluated the restorations clinically at each appointment. There were no significant differences in VAS scores between the two groups at any appointment period (two-way ANOVA; p>0.05). Several conditions were defined as indicating marginal stress before the start of the trial. At 24 months, there was no significant difference between the SS and PAC groups. Conclusion: Within the limitations of this study, Class I and II restorations placed with a SS technique did not show significant changes in post-op sensitivity or decreased signs of marginal stress.
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