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Br Dent J. 2011 Sep 23;211(6):E13. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2011.768.

General dental practitioners' knowledge of polymerisation of resin-based composite restorations and light curing unit technology.

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The Faculty of General Dental Practice, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE.



Clinical successful use of resin-based composite restorations (RBCs) depends on knowledge of material and light curing unit (LCU) related factors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate general dental practitioners' knowledge of polymerisation of RBCs and LCU technology.


Members of the Active Research Group of the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) in England, Scotland and Wales engaged in primary dental care were sent a letter introducing the study and asking for their cooperation, followed by an email containing a link to the online survey questionnaire, hosted on The questionnaire enquired about current LCUs, and asked a series of questions on material science.


Sixty-six percent of the 274 members contacted responded. Fifty-seven percent used LED units, 25% quartz tungsten halogen (QTH), and 1% plasma arc (missing: 17%). Thirty percent reported having access to a radiometer. Appropriate responses regarding the degree of conversion of composite and adhesive materials were given by 32% and 23% respectively, and 22% agreed that LED and QTH LCUs had comparable efficiency in polymerising composites. Thirty-three percent were aware that RBCs eluted substances that may have adverse local or systemic consequences. Fifty-eight percent stated that if polymerisation of RBC is slowed down, polymerisation stress will be lower, and 43% said that polymerisation shrinkage will be reduced if the degree of conversion is reduced. Knowledge (measured by appropriate responses to these questions) was not related to years since qualification (r=-0.05, n=168, p=0.53).


The study suggests that dentists' knowledge of curing RBC restorations and LCUs is poor. This indicates that there is a need for training and guidance in this aspect of primary dental care.

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