During resin-bonding procedures, dentin surfaces are treated with acidic conditioners to remove the smear layer and decalcify the surface to expose the collagen fibrils of the underlying matrix. These decalcified surfaces are then either air-dried or treated with dehydrating solvents, procedures which may modify the physical properties of the dentin matrix. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of dehydration on the stiffness of the decalcified dentin matrix. Small (8 × 1.7 × 0.9 mm) beams of dentin were prepared from mid-coronal dentin of extracted human molars. The ends were covered with varnish for protection, and the specimens were placed in 0.5 M EDTA for 5 days to decalcify. The stiffness was measured by both the cantilever technique and by conventional stress-strain testing. Specimens tested by the cantilever technique were sequentially exposed to water, acetone, alcohol, HEMA, and glutaraldehyde. Specimens tested by conventional stress-strain testing were exposed either to water, acetone, or HEMA, or were allowed to air-dry. The results indicate that the stiffness of decalcified human dentin matrix is very low (ca. 7 MPa), if the specimens are wet with water. As they are dehydrated, either chemically in water-miscible organic solvents or physically in air, the stiffness increases 20- to 38-fold at low strains or three- to six-fold at high strains. These increases in modulus were rapidly reversed by rehydration in water. Exposure to glutaraldehyde also produced an increase in stiffness that was not reversible when the specimens were placed back in water.
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