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Dent Clin N Am 51 (2007) 379–397

Abrasive Finishing and Polishing in Restorative Dentistry: A State-of-the-Art Review
Steven R. Jefferies, MS, DDS
Department of Restorative Dentistry, Temple University School of Dentistry, 3223 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA

Effective finishing and polishing of dental restorations not only result in optimal aesthetics but also provide for acceptable oral health of soft tissues and marginal integrity of the restorative interface. In an earlier published review article, this author noted some of the difficulties resulting from improperly finished and polished restorations, including ‘‘excessive plaque accumulation, gingival irritation, increased surface staining, and poor or suboptimal esthetics of the restored teeth’’ [1]. This review of abrasive technology in dentistry provides an overview of basic principles of abrasive science and considers some research concerning clinically relevant questions involving this subject. The article also discusses some recent innovations in finishing and polishing devices in restorative dentistry. This review brings forward some newly published, outcome-based information concerning the relevance and importance of an effective knowledge of finishing and polishing techniques and materials. The overall aim is to provide the reader with an enhanced awareness and broader knowledge of the principles and tools available to produce optimal surface finishing and integrity in dental restoratives.

Basic principles of tribiology as it relates to abrasive science in dentistry The mechanisms involved in mechanical finishing and polishing using abrasive particles are part of tribiology, the discipline associated with material science, physics, chemistry and surface-contact engineering [2]. A description of a tribiological system consists of a set of experimental

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abrasion. and tribochemical reactions. and procedures are intended to produce intentional. and controlled wear of dental restorative-material surfaces. Three-body abrasive wear occurs when loose particles move in the interface between the specimen surface and the polishing application device. Such a situation occurs when abrasives are intentionally deposited so as to roll on top of the polishing substrate. . In a three-body abrasive mode. 1. Nevertheless. The four major wear mechanisms are adhesion. as illustrated in Fig. the interfacial media. which in some instances are accompanied by hertzian fractures. this article uses the most widely accepted terms. the bound abrasive particle is solidly fixed to the substrate (see Fig. free (or loose) particles form slurry between the specimen surface to be polished and a flat polishing substrate (see Fig.380 JEFFERIES parameters (eg. and laboratory technicians use the three-body abrasive mode in the form of loose abrasives. selective. such as prophy or polishing pastes. but other mechanisms are also possible. Wear is defined as a cumulative surface damage phenomenon in which material is removed from a body as small debris particles. dentist. The wear mechanism is the transfer of energy with removal or displacement of material. For the classification of the abrasive-wear modes. In a two-body mode. the wear mechanism is mostly abrasive wear. Finishing and polishing procedures in restorative dentistry follow tribiologic principles of abrasive wear in two-body and three-body configurations. These include surface fatigue and the development of ploughing grooves or scratches. materials. velocity. These are two-body abrasion and three-body abrasion. surface fatigue. 1). 1). These terms illustrate the experimental situations encountered in finishing and polishing techniques. primarily by mechanical processes. and duration of motion) and the system structure (eg. hygienists. 1. Finishing and polishing devices. In polishing with abrasive particles. and the surrounding media). the two bodies in contact. applied load. Most dental finishing and polishing devices operate in the two-body mode. as in the case of the final polishing Fig. The free particles in a three-body wear mode may be intentionally added abrasives or detached debris from the worn surface.

which can be described in mechanical and geometrical terms. industries. are accompanied by the production of highly localized heat and the creation of residual defects and surface flaws in the material being polished. Why the interest in finishing and polishing in dentistry? Dentists have always been encouraged to take the time and effort to adequately finish and polish restorations. marginal areas. definitions. and applications. Finishing refers to a comprehensive process and a discrete activity within the overall procedure or process. In the dental context. To remove excess flash and refine the margins of the restoration 2. To improve oral function and mastication. To produce a more aesthetic. light-reflectant restoration for the patient This article later reviews in greater depth some of the literature-based evidence regarding these clinical issues. since a rough surface may be more likely to fracture 3. A three-body mode may also occur when small pieces of material are detached from the specimen to be polished and become trapped or circulate within the zone of contact between the two first bodies.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 381 step with very small grains on soft lubricated pads. to obtain the desired anatomy. the . The clinical and scientific reasons for careful finishing and polishing have been noted [3]: 1. since food slides more easily over polished tooth surfaces 6. As a generic concept. These deformations. To produce a smooth surface less likely to retain plaque 5. and procedural steps involved in the finishing and polishing underscore some confusion about the actual terms of finishing and polishing. The manifestations of abrasive wear are a change of the surface roughness resulting from material removal and a change of the physical and chemical properties of the surface and subsurface with respect to those of the bulk. hence reducing surface area and thus reducing the risk of surface breakdown and corrosion 4. and interproximal areas through normal toothbrushing and use of dental floss 7. finishing and polishing encompass many fields. To reduce surface imperfections. To reduced the risk of fracture. leading to less wear on opposing and adjacent teeth 8. Just what do we mean by finishing and polishing? Finishing and polishing refers to gross contouring of the restoration. To produce smooth surfaces that facilitate oral hygiene procedures with access to all surfaces. and the reduction and smoothing of the roughness and scratches created by finishing instruments. The terms. To produce smooth restoration contacts.

is determined by a number of factors [6. uniform. softness. and smoothing away surface roughness of a restoration. elasticity. and the resultant surface roughness of the restoration. size. the adjacent natural tooth structure should not be damaged or excessively removed in this procedure. and the application of various finishing techniques to establish a smooth. The effectiveness of any finishing or polishing device.9]: 1. Finishing includes the process of margination as described below.  Margination: the specific step of the finishing process that involves the removal of excess restorative material at the junction of the tooth structure and the restorative material. Particle hardness. light-reflective. Structure and mechanical properties of the substrate being finished and polished (eg. 2. and shape of abrasive used in the device 4. and well-adapted cavosurface margin. The finishing and polishing procedure involves some fundamental principles that allow us to better understand its application in dentistry. flexibility. The polishing process is also intended to produce a homogeneous surface with minimal microscopic scratches and deflects. and (3) the process of producing a highly smooth. amalgam. composite resin. and thermal expansion and contraction are transferred to the marginal aspects of the restoration. polyacid modified composite resin (so-called ‘‘compomer’’). as depicted in Fig. Difference in the hardness between the abrasive device and the substrate 3. The finish lines of a preparation are often critical to the longevity of many direct and indirect restoratives because forces of polymerization. enamel-like surface through final polishing. The dental finishing procedure usually consists of three to four distinct steps or phases involving a number of instruments. light-reflective luster. thickness. (2) the reduction and smoothing of the surface roughness and scratches created by finishing instruments in the process of gross reduction and initial polishing. defining anatomic contours. The resultant junction should conform in shape and normal anatomic characteristics. Optimally.  Polishing: the process carried out after the finishing and margination steps of the finishing procedure to remove minute scratches from the surface of a restoration and obtain a smooth.382 JEFFERIES following definitions may be helpful as this article reviews the finishing and polishing of dental restoratives:  Finishing: the process that involves removing marginal irregularities. glass ionomer. mastication. rigidity. porosity) . Physical properties of the backing or bonding material used to carry the abrasive material or substance (eg. porcelain–ceramic materials) 2. Finishing and polishing in restorative dentistry refers to the steps of (1) gross contouring of the restoration to obtain the desired anatomy.

and tungsten carbide. and composite resin. It is also the abrasive used for white stones. Aluminum oxide is typically produced as particles bonded to paper or polymer disks and strips or impregnated into rubber wheels and points. or wheels for use on low-piece handpieces. petroleum jelly) Types and composition of abrasives Aluminum oxide Aluminum oxide is a chemical compound of aluminum and oxygen with the chemical formula Al2O3. Aluminum oxide has sufficient hardness (9 on Mohs’ hardness scale) for polishing porcelain. boron carbide. which consist of sintered aluminum oxide ceramic points of various shapes. Silicon and boron for finishing instruments typically are supplied as particles pressed with a binder into disks. emphasis on aesthetics and surface polish. Carbide compounds Abrasives in the form of carbide compounds include silicon carbide. Finishing and polishing of dental restorative materials encompasses a progression of steps from gross reduction and contouring to final polishing. may result in greater time and attention to final polishing procedures. glycerol. The abrading and cutting portion of multifluted finishing burs are manufactured from tungsten carbide bits. Fine particles of aluminum oxide can be mixed into a polishing paste to produce smooth. water-soluble polymers. 2.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 383 Fig. 5. silicon grease. However. polished surfaces on many types of restorations. cups. ceramics. Speed and pressure at which the abrasive is applied to the substrate 6. ceramic. water. including acrylics and composites. It is also commonly referred to as alumina in the mining. which has been increasing. points. and material science disciplines. The ‘‘triangle’’ representation reflects empirical observations regarding the relative amount of time and effort spent on each segment of the process. Lubrication and the use of lubricants during the application of the abrasive (eg. Silicon carbide can also be coated on paper or polymer-backed . Its hardness makes it suitable for use as an abrasive and as a component in cutting tools.

thus permitting it to resist wear and maintain sharpness. 3 illustrates the broad range of finishing and polishing devices and compositions containing either aluminum oxide or diamond abrasives.384 JEFFERIES finishing discs. Zirconium oxide Like silicon dioxide. or used as a polishing paste or slurry. Japan). Amherst. it is primarily used in rubber or elastomeric cups and points for finishing and polishing. zirconium oxide in dental abrasive devices is used primarily in elastic or rubberlike finishing and polishing rotary shapes. which Watanabe and colleagues [5] report to contain 25 mm zirconium oxide. Diamond abrasives Composed of carbon. Zirconium silicate Zirconium silicate is a natural mineral often used as a polishing agent in strips. diamond burs. These include fluted carbide burs. These are the two most commonly used abrasives in dentistry and can be surface-bonded on high.or low-rotary burs. . which are particularly effective for microfilled composite resin restoratives. impregnated in ‘‘rubber. disks. Fig. impregnated within a bonded.’’ elastomeric bonded abrasive finishers and polishers. This abrasive is used in the initial finishers and second grit polishers in the Astropol Finishing and Polishing System (Ivoclar North America. Silicon dioxide Silicon dioxide is used primarily as a polishing agent in bonded abrasive rubber or elastomeric finishing and polishing devices. elastomeric matrix. Diamond dust or particles of various sizes or grits can be coated on a rigid matrix. or used as loose abrasive polishing pastes. New York) [4]. Kyoto. diamond is the hardest substance known. Table 1 lists the relative hardness of some of these abrasive compounds and lists some examples of their incorporation in various finishing and devices. A review of dental abrasive finishing and polishing devices A number of methods and tools for finishing and polishing restorations are available to clinicians. An example of this abrasive is Silicone Points C type (Shofu Dental. and prophylactic pastes. Diamond is a highly efficient abrasive due to its hardness. which the article will now discuss in greater detail. In dental devices.

Finishing diamonds are used to contour. The gray paste to the lower left is diamond paste. They are manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes and come in different grits. before the introduction and availability of fluted carbide burs [6]. On the left are loose abrasive polishing pastes. and smooth restorative materials. The two devices on the lower right are diamond-coated abrasive burs. In most cases. depending on the manufacturer. polishing pastes. and bonding of the diamond particles. which use sintered aluminum oxide. stones. Diamond finishing burs Diamond instruments for dental use were introduced in the United States in 1942. Diamond . and a metallic bonding material that bonds the diamond powder onto the shank or blank [6]. spacing. adjust. These burs have particles of industrial diamonds incorporated into their working surfaces. On the upper right-hand side are two rigid bonded abrasive burs. 3. Diamond instruments consist of three parts: a metal shank or blank. Finishing and polishing devices and compositions containing aluminum oxide and diamond abrasives. uniformity. diamond rotary finishing burs rely predominantly on abrasive rather than blade cutting action. and soft. starting with a coarser grit and progressing to a finer grit. called white stones. Unlike fluted carbide finishing burs (see below). The clinical performance of diamond abrasive instruments depends on such variables as the size. In the center are elastomeric bonded abrasives containing aluminum oxide or diamond particles. Diamond burs should always be used with water spray to dissipate heat and at speeds at the lower range of the high-speed turbine. exposure. they are applied in sequence. coated abrasive discs and strips.or hardrubber cups. such as composites and porcelain. The white paste on the upper left is aluminum oxide. points. the powdered or particulate diamond abrasive.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 385 Fig. ranging from 7 to 50 mm. and wheels impregnated with various abrasives grits.

compared with either aluminum oxide discs or carbide finishing burs. coated abrasive discs. loose abrasive polishing paste Dental prophylaxis paste abrasive Dental prophylaxis paste abrasive Natural tooth structure Natural tooth structure Restorative material Restorative material Restorative material Restorative material Silicon carbide Tungsten carbide Aluminum oxide 9–10 9 9 Zirconium silicate Pumice Enamel Dentin Porcelain Gold and gold alloys Resin composite Amalgam 7–7. due to their less abrasive action.386 JEFFERIES Table 1 Relative hardness values for various dental abrasive compounds. initial finishing with a 30-mm diamond . Nevertheless.9] Abrasive material Diamond Hardness (Mohs’ hardness scale) 10 Device examples Diamond cutting and finishing burs. usually follow the use of diamonds finishing burs. natural tooth structures. 20. may be kinder to soft tissue at the gingival margin as compared with diamond bur or bonded abrasive contouring instruments. The most common fluted carbide finishing burs have 12. In an in-vivo evaluation of margin and surface quality with composite and ceramic inlay restorations. such as fluted carbide finishing burs. As a result. such as those using porcelain and other ceramic materials. bonded elastomeric (rubberized) polishers. coated abrasive finishing– polishing discs. or 40 blades for contouring and smoothing various restorative materials and tooth structures [9]. bonded abrasive rubber polishing instruments. and restorative materials [6.5 6 5 3–4 6–7 2. and loose abrasive polishing pastes.5–4 5–7 4–5 finishing burs are highly efficient in rates of materials removal. Indirect restorations. loose abrasive polishing paste Coated abrasive finishing–polishing discs Carbide finishing burs White stones. The most commonly used burs have from 8 to 40 fluted blades. and can be straight or twisted. ultrafine finishing diamond burs (40 mm) removed less dentin around the gingival margins of Class V preparations restored with a flowable composite [8]. Carbide finishing burs. bonded elastomeric (rubberized) finishers–polishers. require specific materials and techniques in finishing and polishing. which requires further finishing and polishing [7]. other finishing and polishing instruments. Carbide finishing burs Carbide burs are available in a variety of shapes for contouring and finishing. but leave a significantly rough surface.

This study suggests the sequential use of carbide finishing burs after use of finishing diamonds for initial contouring and gross reduction to improve surface and marginal quality. including the newer abrasive-impregnated brushes.11–18]. garnet. making these discs single-use and disposable. Stones are used for contouring and finishing restorations. Finishing and polishing discs are used for gross reduction. whereas white stones contain aluminum oxide. . finishing. to 7 to 8 mm for the ultra. which are discussed later in this review. but silicon carbide. and fine grades of abrasivity. and quartz (cuttle) abrasives are used as well.or superfine grade of finishing disc [19]. A number of studies have documented the effectiveness of coated abrasive disc systems [5. abrasive stones can be provided in coarse. Stones Dental stones are composed of abrasive particles that have been sintered together or bonded with an organic resin to form a cohesive mass [9]. especially on interproximal and some buccal–lingual areas. Coated abrasive discs and strips are especially useful on flat or convex surfaces. The range of particle size distributions noted for coated abrasive discs vary from 100 to 55 mm for coarse-grade finishing discs. contouring. They work especially well on anterior restorations. The thin layer of abrasive present on these discs remains effective for a limited period of clinical use. and to a limited extent on posterior composites. Coated finishing and polishing discs have limited utility on posterior occlusal and concave anterior lingual areas. Coated abrasive finishing and polishing discs and strips Coated abrasive discs and strips are made by bonding abrasive particles onto a thin polymer or plastic backing [9]. The stone is concentrically fixed to the end of a rotary metal shank or blank. As noted in the studies cited above. These areas are better addressed with bond abrasive points and cups. and have a lower cutting or abrading efficiency than that of diamond burs. starting with a coarser grit disc and finishing with a superfine grit. They are used in a sequence of grits. medium. The color of the stones is an indication of the particular abrasive used: stones containing silicon carbide are green. Some studies indicate that coated abrasive discs are particularly effective for finishing traditional microfil composite resin materials [11]. emery. Depending on the size of the abrasive grit used.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 387 followed by finishing with a tungsten carbide finishing bur resulted in a significantly greater amount of continuous margins compared with finishing with two finishing diamonds (20-mm following the 30-mm diamond) [10]. coated abrasive discs can finish and provide prepolishing and polishing action for a wide range of restorative materials. and polishing restorations. Most are coated with an aluminum oxide abrasive. such as those involving incisal edges and embrasures.

Fig.C. and points Rubber polishing instruments are used to finish. including aluminum oxide and diamond particles [20]. On its labels for Enhance Composite Finishing & Polishing System and Pogo One Step Diamond Micro-Polisher. Sof-Lex system (3M ESPE). cups. cups. These finishing and polishing instruments are abrasive instruments based on fine or ultrafine hard. Elastomeric or rubberized abrasive rotary finishing and polishing devices. Coarser finishing and prepolishing devices are on the top row. Delaware) lists a patent (U. Rubber wheels. Shapes.078. OptiDisc (Kerr Corporation). wheels. or polish composites. . Flexible. with varying sizes and dimensions. and Super-Snap (Shofu). 4 depicts the wide range of bonded. elastomeric finishers–polishers available. and points.S. 4. manufacturer Dentsply/Caulk (Milford.388 JEFFERIES Coated abrasive discs are available from a number of manufacturers. bonded abrasive devices are made by molding abrasive particles of varying particle sizes and size distributions in an elastomeric matrix. They are often sold as kits with a variety of shapes and grits to accommodate the various tooth dimensions and contours presented to the clinician. include discs. smooth. Fig. The elastomeric matrix can be a natural or synthetic rubber. FlexiDisc (Cosmedent). Polishing devices are on the lower two rows. abrasive particles dispersed and held in a softer. Patent 5. or other synthetic elastic polymers.754) that describes the use of a ‘‘urethane’’ elastic polymer in which a wide range of abrasive particles can be dispersed. Moore-Flex Polishing System and Moore-Silicon Carbide Discs (E. The various configurations of these flexible or rubber finishers and polishers complements the access limitations of the coated abrasive discs for such areas as anterior lingual and posterior occlusal surfaces. Moore). These products include the EP Esthetic Polishing System (Brassler). elastic matrix. silicone.

18].5. 15. elastomeric abrasive finishers and polishers [4.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 389 Molded or bonded elastomeric abrasives come in a variety of grits. The mandrels are made of stainless steel and high-strength plastic. sizes. Japan) [5.and two-step polishing device systems reaching surface smoothness comparable to multistep. Some recent studies have evaluated the efficacy of a variety of bonded. The abrasives used within these instruments are usually comprised of silicon carbide. Heerbrugg. Kyoto. coated-abrasive disc systems. it is important not to apply heavy pressure when using diamond abrasive rubber polishing instruments. While there appears to be a range of effectiveness in the ability to produce smooth surfaces on direct restorative materials.18.18. with many one. Orange.5. Some of these instruments may be useful in intermediate finishing and in anatomic contouring.15. California) [24] Silicone Points C type (Shofu.21] Flexicups (Cosmedent. Chicago. Hence. Milford.12–15. Some of the commercial finishing–prepolishing devices (including complete finishing–polishing systems) that appear to have been evaluated in the literature include: Astropol (Ivoclar Vivadent. Liechtenstein) [4. In the three-body. Switzerland) [25] Enhance (Dentsply/Caulk. Some of these products are fabricated to be reusable after sterilization. Delaware) [21–24]. .18] and Pogo (Dentsply/Caulk. as well as prepolishing. diamond-impregnated polishers appear particularly effective. aluminum oxide. These elastomeric. Illinois) [17] Identoflex Points (Identoflex AG Buchs.19. to avoid a significant surface-temperature rise that can potentially be deleterious to the restoration as well as to the tooth itself. Switzerland) [15] Identoflex (Kerr Corporation.21] to 6 mm for a silicone diamond polishing instrument [5. loose abrasive polishing process. Such diamond one-step polishers that have appeared in some reports include Compomaster (Shofu.19] Comprepol and Composhine (Diatech Dental. Japan) [5. Delaware.) [1. Schaan.18–24]. The particle size distributions listed in the literature range from about 40 mm for an elastomeric aluminum oxide finishing device [5. Diamond-containing polishing devices produce more frictional heat than other bonded-abrasive devices. silicon dioxide [4].18] Other diamond-containing elastomeric or rubberlike rotary devices have more recently been introduced for finer prepolishing or final polishing. and zirconium oxide [5]. bonded abrasives are usually molded to a ‘‘latch-type’’ mandrel for slow handpieces. Loose abrasive polishing pastes and rotary applicator devices for loose abrasives Loose abrasive polishing pastes are used extensively in industrial and scientific applications [2]. shapes. diamonds. Kyoto. Milford. and degrees of firmness.

’’).390 JEFFERIES the loose abrasive wear induces cutting and ploughing at a 6-mm grit diamond polishing paste and then a submicrometer diamond polishing paste. Diamond polishing pastes also use a glycerin-based paste but with a larger mean particle distribution. facilitating finer abrasive action at nanometer levels on the treated . 25. Of two diamond polishing pastes mentioned in the literature. Although the commonly used method for applying polishing paste is the flexible rubber prophy cup. On the other hand. The technique or mode of applying the polishing paste is also critical.2. Of perhaps equal importance.’’ which is defined as ‘‘the arithmetic mean of the absolute values of the profile departures within the sample or evaluation length being measured.27] have indicated that the mode of application and the applicator device’s structure and composition can be as important as the composition of the paste used in the polishing procedure. on the order of 10 mm to !1 mm. These applicators can be used with both aluminum-oxide–based and diamond-based polishing pastes. Aluminum oxide polishing pastes are usually glycerin based with a mean particle size distribution of 1 mm or less. samples finished with a sequence of progressively smoother diamond abrasive finishing burs (45. and 10 mm). use of soft foam or felt applicators can significantly improve the efficacy of loose abrasive polishing paste. anhydrous condition. exhibited the smoothest transition from composite resin to insert.20) [27] (Ra refers to ‘‘average surface roughness. especially those pastes using aluminum oxide as an abrasive. dentists have used loose abrasive finishing and polishing compositions for several decades. as compared with application of the same paste with a conventional rubber prophy cup (Ra w 0. no improvement in surface smoothness. one contains diamond particles on the order of 4 to 6 mm and the other contains diamond particles of !1 mm [26]. but also in a polishing mode with the addition of water. prepolishing–finishing mode when applied in a dry. Polishing pastes can probably act in a more aggressive. at best. Following the example from other industrial and scientific disciplines. Surface roughness decreased 50% when a 1-mm aluminum oxide polishing paste was applied with a porous synthetic foam cup (Ra w 0. which can produce scratches [2]. Fig. it is recommended to frequently renew the pad (with fresh polishing paste) and to keep it always wet to prevent crystallization of the colloidal contaminants (such as silica). 5 depicts the wide range of shapes and sizes of both felt and foam polishing paste applicators. In this study.10). studies and research findings [1. which examined the surface morphology and smoothness of the transition from a glass-ceramic insert to a bonded composite resin interface. followed by polishing with first a 4. Loose abrasive polishing pastes used in dental applications are predominantly either based on dispersed and suspended ultrafine aluminum oxide or diamond particles [1].and nanometer scale. Based on polishing applications in scientific and industrial fields. which are optimal for loose abrasive polishing of dental restorations. surface roughness data strongly suggest that such a mode of application results in increased surface roughness or.

highly filled hybrid material. Synthetic and natural foam or felted polishing paste rotary applicators. One investigation has even demonstrated that sequentially applied aluminum oxide polishing pastes produce a visually smooth and light-reflective surface on microfil and small-particle hybrid composites.28]. A differential benefit of polishing paste on various restorative materials has also been noted [19. This author has also noted that with careful technique. a finishing–polishing sequence from multifluted carbide burs to sequential polishing pastes is feasible.21]. Nevertheless. several investigations report favorable results in producing highly smooth. light-reflective surfaces [ 40flute carbide finishing burs [29]. aluminum oxide polishing paste after using sequential. surface. bonded abrasives) between . 5. others have noted and recommended the need to introduce intermediate finishing and prepolishing devices (eg. coated discs and rubberlike. three-dimensional surface profile analysis [15]. with optimal benefit on a submicrometer. Synthetic and natural felt applicators are on the left and center. which in turn produces a higher visual surface gloss [12]. With respect to comparative efficacy of polishing pastes as a method for final polishing of composite resins. Investigations have also noted the benefit of using a loose abrasive.27. and surface smoothness equivalent to that obtained through the use of several commercially available bonded abrasive diamond polishing instruments (without the use of polishing paste). These reports involve use of both conventional diamond-stylus contact profilometry.28].11. directly after sequential use of 12-flute and 30.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 391 Fig.18. polishing pastes tend to produce greater specular reflectance [9]. as well as noncontact. These provide a more efficacious and efficient final polishing step using loose abrasive polishing pastes. aluminum-oxide–coated abrasive discs for finishing and prepolishing [1.15. A synthetic foam ‘‘cup’’ applicator is on the far right. In this mode.

Abrasive-impregnated brushes. Aschmann and Von Weissenfluh [31] describe a ‘‘brush Fig. The brush on the far right contains silicon carbide. Recent new technology in the realm of dental finishing and polishing While most new products in the dental finishing and polishing area are ‘‘incremental’’ to existing products. The brushes are intended for reaching into the grooves. The intellectual property literature reveals two US patents that appear specific to this technology [31. and contours. Several of these brushes are depicted in Fig. and interproximal areas of ceramic and resin composite restorations that cannot be reached with other finishing or polishing devices without unintended removal of anatomic grooves. fissures. with a variety of polymer ‘‘bristles’’ impregnated with various abrasive polishing particles. This article highlights two of these recent product technologies. 6. Abrasive-impregnated brushes and felt devices Abrasive-impregnated. new designs or abrasive compositions periodically appear that raise greater interest and examination. . 6. a recent technological development in restorative polishing. cup-shaped). latch-type polishing brushes were introduced to the professional in the late 1990s. fissures. These polishing brushes come in several shapes (pointed.392 JEFFERIES high-speed contouring–finishing burs and diamonds before the application of polishing pastes for both composite [14] and porcelain [30] restorative materials. The three abrasive brushes from left to right contain diamond particles as the abrasive.32].

provided a surface luster subjectively greater than an extra-fine coated abrasive disc (on composite resin and enamel). These diamond-impregnated felt wheels appeared effective in smoothing the surface of a hybrid composite resin after initial finishing with various sequences of high-speed diamond burs. This polishing device design is interesting in its approach to providing improved ‘‘micro-access’’ for bonded abrasive polishing. cement.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 393 for surface treatments in restorative dentistry (which) comprises one or several lamellar abrasive elements. Utah).23] evaluated the residual surface roughness after use of the Sof-Lex Brush (3M ESPE. could be reused with autoclaving 15 to 19 times. produced a composite surface smoothness somewhere between that created by a 25-mm finishing diamond and a extrafine coated abrasive disc. Paul. now Kerr Corporation. a few in-vitro evaluations have assessed the polishing efficacy of these abrasive-impregnated polishing brushes. the Jiffy Polishing Brush (Ultradent. Rotary resin-matrix stain. polished surface comparable to that following the use of a rubber or bonded abrasive diamond polishing device. after finishing–prepolishing with sequential rubber polishing cups (Flexicups/Cosmodent). Occlubrush (HaweNeos.’’ According to 3M ESPE. composed of rigid polycarbonate fibers impregnated with silicon carbide abrasive particles. The investigators found that the siliconcarbide–impregnated bristle polishing brush maintained surface texture during the polishing procedure. a division of Danaher Corporation. the company that holds the patent for this brush. Minnesota) and found that the brush produced a smooth. Venturini and colleagues [17] evaluated a silicon-carbide–impregnated polishing brush. More recently. and needs further laboratory and clinical evaluation. the 3M Sof-Lex Brush.’’ Dubbe and Lund [32] describe ‘‘a brush for a dental handpiece . California). They found a high level of surface smoothness in both microfilm and hybrid composite resins after polishing with this impregnated brush for both an immediate and a delayed polishing technique. wherein at least some of the bristles comprise an elastomeric material and a number of abrasive particles distributed throughout the elastomeric material. and was no more deleterious to enamel surface quality or restoration marginal quality than a 25-mm finishing diamond. In 1999. have recently been . Yap and colleagues [22. St. the particulate abrasive used in the brush is aluminum oxide [33]. Orange. an early report on these new polishing devices [31] described the evaluation of a new polishing brush. composite removing devices Several rotary devices based on a polymer or composite resin binder or matrix. One precursor to this specific abrasive-impregnated brush technology appears to have been diamond-impregnated felt wheels for polishing a hybrid composite resin [34]. tungsten carbide finishing burs. with apparent ‘‘controlled’’ abrasivity. or combinations of diamond and carbide finishing burs. South Jordan.

according to the company. . California). The patent abstract indicates that the structure of the ‘‘rod’’ bur ‘‘is made up of fibers and optionally a load of particles embedded in a resinous matrix giving the working surface of the rod a continuous abrasive power. and Carbotech. periodontal root planing. 7. The blue rotary bur (right) is suggested for removal and cleaning of temporary cement on tooth preparations before final cementation.874 [35]. include removal of residual orthodontic adhesive. a latch-type rotary Fig. This specific product is apparently manufactured by Carbotech under US Patent 6. rotary composite fiber bur that Danville claims will remove residual composite with no damage to either enamel or porcelain.386. stain removal. Ganges. Recent rotary finishing–polishing devices. The white. including composite resin and residual cement. a latch-type.’’ The primary claim (Claim 1) listed in the patent is: Hygiene instrument for the cleaning and polishing of the surface of teeth and/or composite materials of dental fillings. fiber-impregnated polymer rotary burs have been suggested and indicated for ‘‘minimally’’ abrasive action (ie. the structure of which comprises fibers embedded in a resinous matrix wherein the fibers are made from a glass enriched with zirconium oxide. San Ramon. a division of Danaher Corporation. France). The other new product in this class is OptiClean (Kerr Dental. according to the package label. Other stated intended uses. giving to the instrument a high resistance to at least one of an alkaline and acidic agent and making the instrument detectable by electromagnetic radiation. said instrument having the shape of a rod. selective composite removal). Examples of this new class of abrasive devices includes StainBuster (Danville.394 JEFFERIES introduced to selectively remove surface-adherent restorative materials. California. Orange. and stain removal on tooth structure for areas with limited access.

Pintado MR. polishing. Dent Clin North Am 1998. 2002. Peason GJ. The manufacture lists US Patent 5.nhgl. or use of hand instruments.FINISHING AND POLISHING IN RESTORATIVE DENTISTRY 395 bur composed of aromatic polyamide containing 40-mm aluminum oxide. Sturdevant CM. Thompson JY. p. editors. References [1] Jefferies SR. This article provides a clinically useful. [8] Mitchell CA. J Res Natl Inst Stand Technol 2002. Quintessence Int 2006.37(3):183– OptiClean is intended for removal of temporary cement and debris on tooth preparations before final cementation and therefore replaces other methods of preparation surface cleaning. and surface maintenance in restorative dentistry. Oper Dent 1997. [4] U. 61–19 Astropol Finishing and Polishing System (Project 00-13). Iatrogenic tooth abrasion comparisons among composite materials and finishing techniques. Influence of polishing duration on surface roughness of resin composites. [5] Watanabe T.88(3):320–8. J Prosthet Dent 2002.201 on its labeling for the product [36]. et al. J Oral Sci 2005. et al.22(2):98–104. et al. According to the manufacturer. Philips M. of a specific dimension and composition. await further independent studies and evaluations to more fully understand their performance. Surface roughness and cutting efficiency of composite finishing instruments. Takamizawa T. St. Highly effective and efficient finishing and polishing procedures achieve this objective by producing restorations with a surface smoothness and light reflectivity similar to natural tooth structure. Summary The primary goal of finishing and polishing technology and procedures in dental restorative procedures is to create restorations that are aesthetically natural and harmonize both in function and appearance with the surrounding natural tooth structure. and also provides a glimpse into new and emerging concepts in optimal surface finishing. 7. Billington RW. Louis: Mosby. [7] Jung M. Available at: https://decs.882. Interoperator variability during polishing.42:613–27. Chaper 7: instruments and equipment for tooth preparation.107:639–62. Implications of polishing techniques in quantitative x-ray microanalysis. This patent details a rotary dental such as a rubber cup and pumice. Air Force Dental Evaluation & Consultation Service. [2] Remond G.47:21–5. . intended to be used to ‘‘remove a surface contaminant from a surface of a tooth. Heymann HO. [3] Jones CS. Miyazaki M. [6] Bayne SC. Optimal surface properties and smoothness are also important for maintaining the tooth-restorative interface-appropriate oral hygiene procedures. Nockolds C. Swift EJ. Douglas WH. In: Roberson TM.htm. outcome-supported discussion of existing and well-known sec12. which are depicted in Fig.’’ Both of these products. Sturdevant’s art & science of operative dentistry. The art and science of abrasive finishing and polishing in restorative dentistry. 307–44.

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