A layer of an unfilled adhesive resin placed between the tooth and composite restoration has been shown to absorb some of the stress generated in the composite during polymerization and to reduce interfacial leakage. The objectives of this study were to measure the change in polymerization contraction stress of bonded composite as the thickness of the resin adhesive was systematically varied, and to correlate the effects of the adhesive thickness and reduced stress on marginal leakage in class V cavities. The maximum contraction force of composite (Herculite XRV) was measured in a tensilometer as the thickness of the adhesive bonding agent (Scotchbond MP) was varied from 20 to 300 μm. Composite was placed in Class V cavities prepared on the labial surfaces of bovine teeth to which different thicknesses of adhesive had been applied by layering, and a marginal leakage test was performed by means of staining with silver nitrate. Contraction stress decreased significantly as the adhesive thickness was increased. This result was supported by a theoretical examination of the data. In class V cavities, additional adhesive layering in the marginal area reduced the overall degree of microleakage. The contraction stress generated during the placement of a composite restoration contributes significantly to early marginal leakage, and this stress was significantly absorbed and relieved by the application of an increasing thickness of low-stiffness adhesive.
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