Don’t Be Afraid to Shake Up Your Restorative Routine
Direct composite restorations are the bread and butter of a general dentistry office. And while the bonding agents and composites that we use to facilitate these restorations are constantly evolving to create better and longer-lasting results, many dentists fall into the trap of sticking with the same materials they’ve used for years and years—simply because they work. True, these materials may be yielding good results, but an unwillingness to try new and potentially better products holds practitioners back from achieving even better outcomes.
It’s no secret that bonding agents are getting significantly better, in part due to the realization that the more steps a product requires, the greater potential there is for contamination of the bonding site and reduced longevity of the restoration. Today’s 1- and 2-bottle adhesive systems are designed to simplify the bonding protocol, and in many cases, we are now able to reduce the number of steps required to bond a composite with strengths that rival the standards of years ago. There are bonding agents that self-cure within seconds of placement—eliminating the need to involve a curing light. We have the flexibility to use self-, total-, or selective-etch techniques with great results, depending on the condition of the tooth and the type of restoration planned.
The chemistries of composite materials also have continued to evolve, allowing us to produce restorations with better adaptation and physical properties than ever before. For instance, we have graduated from incremental filling techniques to bulk-fill systems, and seen a resurgence in heating composite, which gives the material better flowability and allows for much easier placement. Perhaps one of the best material advancements of our time is the new generation of single-shade composites. No more trying to match colors; these single-shade composites can be used in all types of preparations throughout the mouth with reliable outcomes. Achieving good color matches with a minimum amount of inventory greatly simplifies the process while saving time and money.
The last piece of the direct restorative puzzle is isolation. While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives both personally and professionally, there are silver linings to be found. For example, increased safety concerns around the generation of aerosols has forced many practitioners back into using a rubber dam or alternative isolation device. This not only helps reduce the potential of aerosol contamination, but provides the dry environment needed to achieve consistently great results for your direct composite restorations.
Before you consider shaking up your direct restorative routine, it pays to do some research.
Marty Jablow, DMD
Dental Product Shopper Editorial Advisory Board