Journal of Dental Research vol:71 issue:8 pages:1530-40
Cross-sections of resin-dentin interfaces were etched with an argon-ion beam to make their substructure detectable by scanning electron microscopy. The dentin adhesive systems were categorized morphologically into three groups, and an attempt was made to clarify their adhesive mechanism. The first group of products removed the smear layer. The argon-ion bombardment clearly disclosed a hybrid or resin-impregnated dentin layer. It is hypothesized that conditioning with acidic or chelating agents demineralized the dentin surface-layer to a certain depth, leaving behind a collagen-rich mesh-work. Hydrophilic monomers are then believed to alter this collagen-fiber arrangement in a way that facilitates penetration of the adhesive resin, resulting in a mechanical, intermingled link between collagen and the adhesive resin. The second group preserved the smear layer. In this case, the dentinal tubules were obliterated with globular particles at their orifices and remained patent underneath these smear plugs. This type of adhesive system aims at the incorporation of the smear layer into the hydrophilic monomers, which have an affinity for the organic and/or inorganic components of the underlying dentin. Finally, a third, small group only partly dissolved the smear layer, creating a thin resin-impregnated dentin layer and a resin-impregnated smear plug. This study clearly showed that the application of recent adhesive systems induced structural changes in the dentin surface morphology, creating a retentive interface, called the inter-diffusion zone, between the deep, untouched dentin layers and the composite filling material. This resin-dentin interdiffusion zone offers bonding sites for copolymerization with the resin composite and, concurrently, might have protective potential for the pulp tissues.