This study evaluated the effect of light curing unit (LCU) guide type (regular or homogenizing) on top and bottom microhardness of conventional and bulk-fill resin-based composites (RBCs). A polywave light-emitting-diode (LED) LCU (Bluephase Style, Ivoclar Vivadent AG) was used with two different light guides: a regular tip (RT, 935 mW/cm2 emittance) and a homogenizer tip (HT, 851 mW/cm2 emittance). Two conventional RBCs (Herculite Ultra [HER], Kerr Corp; Tetric EvoCeram [TEC], Ivoclar Vivadent AG) and two bulk-fill RBCs (SonicFill [SOF], Kerr Corp; Tetric EvoCeram Bulk Fill [TBF], Ivoclar Vivadent AG) were tested. Disc-shaped samples (10 mm Ø), 2-mm thick for conventional composites and 4-mm thick for bulk-fill composites were prepared. Samples were light cured according to manufacturer-recommended times. Knoop microhardness values (KHN) were obtained on the top and bottom surfaces of each specimen at locations correlated with the output of the three LED chips emitting blue (456 nm) or violet light (409 nm). Beam profile analysis using both light guides was also performed. Microhardness of each composite was analyzed using three-way analysis of variance and Tukey honestly significant difference post hoc test (α=0.05). Beam profile images showed better light distribution across the surface of the HT light guide. Use of the HT decreased KHN of HER at the locations of the blue LED chips at bottom of the sample but had no effect on the top surface. For TEC, use of HT increased KHN of all three LED locations at the top surface. Use of the HT increased KHN of SOF at locations corresponding to one of the blue and the violet LED chips at the bottom surface. For TBF, HT increased KHN at all top surface locations. All RBCs showed higher mean KHN at the top compared with the bottom surfaces. In general, all composites presented a higher KHN at the blue LED areas regardless of the surface or the tip used. Results suggest that the homogenizer light guide resulted in significantly increased microhardness at the top, in composite resins containing alternative photoinitiators; however, that effect was not observed at the bottom surfaces.
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