Fracture Toughness of Experimental Dental Composites Aged in Ethanol

J. L. Ferracane, H. X. Berge

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106 Scopus citations


Fracture toughness (KIc) is an intrinsic property which may be related to the ability of a restorative material to resist fracture and abrasion. This property may change for a dental composite restorative due to the effects of various oral solvents. The hypothesis to be tested was that aging in ethanol would cause a reduction in the fracture toughness of dental composites, and that the extent of this reduction might be dependent upon certain compositional variables. The fracture toughnesses of three series of experimental composites with various degrees of conversion, filler volume, and percent of silane-treated fillers were compared after the composites were aged for periods of one month and six months in 75% ethanol/water, a solvent which serves as a food-simulating liquid. An unfilled Bis-GMA/TEGDMA resin served as the control. All composites, with the exception of one subjected to a post-light-curing heat treatment, experienced a significant reduction (from 30 to 56%) in KIc after being aged in 75% ethanol for six months. A similar reduction in KIc of 58% for the unfilled resin suggested that the reduction for the composites was due to a weakening of the resin matrix, which facilitated crack propagation. A simultaneous reduction in microhardness was also demonstrated. One month of aging in ethanol also produced large reductions in KIc for specimens with insufficient cure and minimal filler volume, suggesting that the properties of the resin matrix predominated for these composites. Aging in ethanol for one month increased KIc by from 5 to 10% for three partially silanated composites, but further aging caused a large reduction in their resistance to crack propagation. This study verified that the KIc and hardness of Bis-GMA-based composites was reduced after long-term aging in an effective solvent. In addition, insufficient curing and severely compromised filler/matrix adhesion, which caused the properties of the resin matrix to dominate, contributed to a reduction in the fracture toughness of composites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1423
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1995


  • aging
  • composite
  • fracture toughness
  • physical property
  • solvent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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