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Inside Dentistry
July 2015
Volume 11, Issue 7

Composite Resin Update

Howard E. Strassler, DMD

Composite resins today are significantly improved compared to composites of the past. When composite resins were first introduced based upon Dr. Raphael Bowen’s patent in 1962, these materials were self-cure, using a bis-GMA resin matrix with relatively large glass filler particles. For the clinician, there were few choices; we had not yet started using resin adhesives. These early composites were a far cry from the light-cured, adhesively placed, and highly esthetic, polishable, and color stable composites we are using today.

Many clinicians desired a simplified restorative material that would be a universal composite resin for both anterior and posterior use. Many manufacturers are providing these universal composites with multiple shades and translucencies to match the natural dentition, wear resistance, simplified placement and finishing techniques, minimal polymerization shrinkage, excellent marginal adaptation and sealing, and an acceptable radiopacity for ease of radiographic evaluation. Other clinicians wanted composite resins exhibiting physical properties matched to the clinical indication, as well as those that provide a more simplified placement technique.

Today’s Choices

As clinicians, we many times choose our composite resin based upon it esthetic appearance and its clinical manageability. Whatever your preferences, there are composite resins that will meet your needs and provide your patients with highly successful restorations.1

Anterior applications for composite:

· Nanohybrid universal composite resins for both anterior and posterior (very polishable, radiopaque)

· Nanohybrid multishade/translucency/opacity composite resins for stratified composite placement (improved color matching and improved esthetics)

· Microfill composite resins (most polishable, radiolucent)

· Flowable composite resin (Class V restorations, margin repair)

Posterior applications for composite resin:

· Nanohybrid low shrinkage, bulk placement composites (some materials for placement in 4-5 mm increments but require adequate light curing for larger increments; few shade choices, translucent to allow for deep depth of cure)

· Nanohybrid universal composite (both anterior and posterior)

· Packable composite resins (more full bodied)

· Flowable composite resin (primarily preventive resin restorations, Class V restorations, margin repair, can be used for porcelain veneer placement, for selective techniques for Class II composite resin placement)

Specialized composites:

· Self-cure composite resins (core/foundation build-ups, limited shades, typically an opaque or colored shade to distinguish the composite from the crown preparation)

· Dual-cure composite resins (core/foundation build-ups, limited shades, typically an opaque or colored shade to distinguish the composite from the crown preparation)

Composite resins have continued to evolve over the past 5 decades, thanks to improvements in composite chemistry, the addition of adhesives and light-curing, and smaller and different types of glass fillers for more esthetic and polishable composites. These changes support the trend of expanded uses for composite resins being placed in our clinical practices.

About the author

Howard E. Strassler, DMD
Professor, Director of Operative Dentistry
Department of Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry
University of Maryland Dental School


1. Bunek SS. Update on composites. The Dental Advisor. 2015;32(3):1-7.

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