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Dent Mater. 2000 Sep;16(5):337-50.

Rheology of dental waxes.

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  • 1Craigielea, Quarriers Village, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, UK.



The rheological properties of waxes are of considerable interest in dentistry, yet the only adopted method of characterizing them in this respect is arbitrary and uninterpretable. The intention was to identify a means of doing so in an objective fashion and to apply it to a variety of products to establish the scope of behavior.


The modified Stokes' falling ball method was used to determine the apparent viscosity of 11 waxes over 25-45 degrees C under a wide range of loads and, therefore, strain rates.


The falling ball method was demonstrated to be applicable over at least 7 orders of magnitude in viscosity, 7 in terminal velocity, and 3 in load. Waxes were shown to be pseudoplastic, lacking any identifiable yield point and having marked departures from Newtonian behavior. The pseudoplasticity followed a power law, the exponent of which (the pseudoplasticity parameter) was temperature dependent in a complex manner, but which showed a definite relationship to the reduced temperature, referred to the liquidus temperature. A master curve could not be constructed because of this variation, but also because of discontinuities in the isothermal contours attributed to stress-melting of components of the wax mixture. Stress-melting may in part account for the pseudoplasticity.


A standardized viscosity number has been defined at 30 degrees C and under 10 N load as the common logarithm of the falling ball apparent viscosity in order to characterize the flow behavior of dental waxes with a single convenient number. The shear thinning exponent, the reciprocal of the pseudoplasticity parameter, provides a similarly convenient measure of the stress-sensitivity of the wax. Direct objective comparison of the rheology of dental waxes may now be made, facilitating selection by the user through appropriate labeling.

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