Comparative study regarding the effect of different finishing and polishing systems on a bulk-fill composite resin surface

DOI: https://doi.org/10.25241/stomaeduj.2018.5(2).art.2

Irina Nica 1a, Simona Stoleriu 1b*, Gianina Iovan 1c, Cristina-Angela Ghiorghe 1d, Galina Pancu 1e, Adriana Munteanu 2f,

Sorin Andrian 1g

1 Department of Odontology – Periodontology and Fixed Prosthodontics, Faculty of Dental Medicine, “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Jassy, Romania

2 Department of Machine Tools, Faculty of Machine Manufacturing and Industrial Management, “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University, Jassy, Romania

A DDS, PhD, Assistant Professor

b,c,f DDS, PhD, Associated Professor

d,e DDS, PhD, Lecturer

g DDS, PhD, Professor


Introduction: One of the main objectives of composite restorations procedure is to obtain a smooth surface for aesthetic reasons and for oral health.

The aim of this study was to assess the surface morphology of a bulk fill composite material after finishing and polishing with three different finishing and polishing systems.

Materials and methods: Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior composite resin was chosen for this study (3M ESPE St. Paul, MN, USA). Twenty cylindrical samples 5 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick were made using plastic molds. They were randomly and equally assigned to four groups. The surface characteristics of the samples were quantitatively analyzed using profilometry and qualitatively evaluated by scanning electron microscopy. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov normality test was used to determine the distribution of data in groups. ANOVA and Tukey post hoc statistical tests were used to compare the results in groups.

Results: Finishing with tungsten carbide burs and two-steps Sof-Lex polishing system and one-step polishing system Occlubrush determined, higher roughness when comparing to multi-step Super Snap system.

Conclusion: The surface characteristics of the studied composite resin were influenced by the type of finishing and polishing system used.

Keywords: bulk-fill composite, finishing and polishing systems, profilometry, SEM.

  1. Introduction

Finishing and polishing are mandatory steps in direct restoration using composite resins. Obtaining a smooth surface has always been one of the main objectives of composite restorations, not only for aesthetic reasons but also for maintaining oral health [1].

It is considered that the surface roughness that leads to bacterial plaque retention is 0.2 μm [2]. Surface roughness higher than this value makes the adherence of bacteria from the oral environment impossible to prevent. In time, biofilm accumulation is responsible for the decreased wear resistance of the restoration, increased risk of caries adjacent to restoration and periodontal inflammation. Surface roughness also influences the retention rate of extrinsic pigments and the aesthetic aspect of the restoration [3-5].

A wide range of instruments can be used to finish and polish direct restoration, such as carbide or diamond finishing burs, rubber based abrasives, aluminium oxide particle discs, abrasive strips and polishing pastes. The action of each instrument determines different values of roughness by the degree of flexibility of the substrate on which the abrasive powder is impregnated, by the hardness of the abrasive powder and by the diameter of the particles from which it is made and all these in relation to the structure of the composite material [6-8].

Aim The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the surface characteristics of a bulk fill composite resin used for direct restoration when different types of finishing and polishing systems were used. The surface microstructure was qualitatively evaluated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and quantitatively assessed by surface roughness determination using profilometry.

  1. Materials and Methods

The material used in the present study was Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior Restorative (3M ESPE, St. Paul, MN, USA). Lot: N720858, shade A3. It was designed to be easily and quickly applied in layers of 5 mm thickness, and it can remain exposed to occlusal forces.
The organic matrix of the Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior Restorative composite contains two new methacrylic monomers, which act synergistically to reduce the polymerization shrinkage. One of the monomers is a high molecular weight aromatic dimethacrylate (AUDM), which modulates the volumetric contraction. The second innovative monomer is actually a class of compounds called adhesion-fragmentation monomers (AFM) that contributes to the release of polymerization stress while maintaining the physical properties of the newly created polymer chains. The organic component also contains DDDMA (1,12-dodecanediol dimethacrylate) which provides low resin viscosity, decreasing exothermic reactions and polymerization shrinkage, and UDMA (urethane dimethacrylate), an increased molecular weight monomer, that reduces resin viscosity and polymerization shrinkage.
The inorganic component of Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior Restorative consists in a combination of non-agglomerated/non-aggregated silica particles of 20 nm, non-agglomerated/non-aggregated zirconia particles with sizes ranging from 4 to 11 nm, respectively zirconia/silica clusters (containing 20 nm silica particles and 4 to 11 nm zirconia particles).
The inorganic component also includes ytterbium trifluoride aggregate particles of 100 nm (YbF3), which have the role of increasing radiopacity of the material. The total inorganic phase loading is about 76.5% (by weight), equivalent to 58.4% (by volume). Details about composite resins type, producer and chemical composition are presented in Table 1.
Twenty cylindrical samples 5 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick were made using plastic moulds The conformers were placed in tight contact with a celluloid matrix between two glass plates, in order to obtain a smooth, flat and a surface free of pores. The samples were light-cured for 40 s on both sides through glass plate to ensure complete polymerization of the material, using a light emitting diode light curing device (Optilight LD MAX –Gnatus) heaving a wavelength of 470 nm to 480 nm, a maximum power of 600 mW/cm2 and providing a polymerization depth of up to 3 mm. After removing samples from moulds they were randomly divided into 4 groups. Samples from group 1 (control), were not finished or polished and the samples in groups 2-4, were finished and polished using three different systems.
In group 2, samples were firstly contoured and finished using tungsten carbide burs from Komet Dental/Gebr Brasseler GmbH & Co. KG, Germany in the following order: for the coarse finishing step (cut-off) the H135Q bur, batch 906561 was used and for ultra-fine finishing (contouring) the H135UF bur, batch 903481 (ISO 500314166031014) was used. Each bur was used for 30 seconds, at 20,000 rpm and under continuous water cooling. Burs were driven in one direction, clockwise. Subsequent polishing was performed with a one-step polishing system Occlubrush (KerrHawe SA, Switzerland) made of polycarbonate fibers impregnated with silicon carbide particles. The small cup brushes were used at 5000 rpm, for 30 seconds and without polishing paste.
In group 3, samples were contoured and finished using the H135Q and H135UF carbide burs (Komet Dental/Gebr Brasseler GmbH & Co. KG, Germany). The polishing was done with a two-step polishing system Sof-Lex (3M ESPE). This system is made up of disposable spiral wheels for finishing (the beige one) and polishing (the white one). The lamellar discs are made of a thermoplastic elastomer impregnated with aluminium oxide particles. Each lamellar disk was used once for each sample, for 30 seconds, without paste or water cooling, at speed of 20,000 r.p.m. according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Finally, the samples were cleaned from the debris by washing with distilled water and dried with air. Subsequently, they were subjected to qualitative surface evaluation using the scanning electron microscope VEGA II LSH TESCAN (Czech Republic) and to quantitative profilometric analysis using a profilometer Taylor Hobson-Surtronic 25 (Ametek Inc, Berwyn, PA, USA). Ten traces were registered in different areas with a tip load of 0.75 mN, a tip diameter of 10 μm, a trace length of 0.25 mm, a scanning speed of 0.5 mm/s and a cut-off length of 0.8 μm.
The roughness parameters were calculated and the mean arithmetic deviation, Ra, of the assessed profile was used. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov normality test was used to determine the distribution of data in groups. ANOVA and Tukey post hoc statistical tests were used to compare the results in groups.

  1. Results

Some SEM surface images at different magnification with morphological aspects of Filtek Bulk Fill composite resin samples in groups 1-4 are presented in Fig. 1. In group 1 – Fig. 1a) (control samples), very rare micro-voids may be observed in small magnification (500 ×), which can be inferred as arising from the sample preparation technique, rather than from the polymerization shrinkage. At this magnification, the surface of control samples appears to be much smoother compared to the other samples. At larger magnifications (2000 ×) very small particles can be identified, not aggregated, distributed among larger particles of silica and zirconia. The appearance of the surface seems compact, revealing a close adhesion between the organic matrix and the inorganic load.

For group 2 – Fig. 1b), the microstructure presents many parallel micro-channels 1 micrometer wide and a 10 micrometers mean distances between them. It is observed that the very fine particles on the surface and matrix elements were removed by abrasion, leaving large clusters with the diameter up to 5 μm to be visible. Similar aspects are also observed in group 3 – Fig. 1c), but the micro-channels formed appear more accentuated and closer when compared to group 2. In group 4, the analyzed surface microstructure – Fig. 1d) indicates similar aspects, but the micro-channels are finer and rarer when compared to the samples from previous groups.

The mean Ra and Rz values obtained by quantitative assessment of samples surface using profilometry are represented in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3, respectively. The lowest Ra (0.023 μm) and Rz (0.181 μm) values were obtained in group 1. In group 2, increased Ra and Rz values were found (Ra mean value of 0.211 μm and mean Rz value of 1.308 μm). In group 3 the same increase in the Ra and Rz mean values was observed (Ra of 0.229 μm and Rz of 1.448 μm). In group 4 the mean Ra (0.098 μm) and Rz (0.798 μm) values were much lower when compared to groups 2 and 3, but higher than the control samples.

The result of the Kolmogorov-Smirnov normality test showed that in all groups the data were normal distributed (p = 0.250 > 0.05) (Table 2). In order to compare the results in groups, ANOVA and Tukey post hoc statistical tests were used (Table 3 and 4, respectively).

Significant results were obtained when comparing Ra values in groups 2, 3, and 4 to group 1 (p < 0.05, Table 4). Also, statistically significant results were obtained when comparing the surface roughness in group 2 to group 4 and in group 3 to group 4. The results in group 2 were not statistically significant when compared to group 3 (p > 0.05, Table 4).

  1. Discussion

The type of inorganic filler of the material can influence the handling characteristic and the final surface aspect after finishing and polishing procedure. Some in vitro studies revealed that a number of other factors may influence the surface condition of the material, such as the type of finishing and polishing system: in one step or several steps [9,10]. It is a lack of consensual opinion in the literature regarding the effect of one step or multi-steps polishing system on composite resins surface roughness. It has been demonstrated that multi-step systems determined smoother surfaces than two-step systems or one-step systems [11]. On the other hand, some other studies showed that there are no significant differences between one-step and multi-step systems [12].

In the present study, the surface roughness of control samples was lower when compared to the results obtained for each of the three finishing and polishing systems used. These results are in agreement with a series of studies which have shown that the smoothest composite resin surface is obtained when the material is light-cured in tight contact with a celluloid matrix [13- 15]. The superficial layer, polymerized in contact with the celluloid matrix has a higher organic content than the underlying layer [16-18] and the removal of this layer by finishing and polishing procedure will increase the surface resistance of the material [19,20]. However, the anatomical contour of the restoration is rarely achieved only by the use of the celluloid matrix [21,22], so most of the time it is necessary to use the finishing and polishing instruments to remove the material in excess and to obtain the shape and the appearance of the restoration closer to the natural tooth.

In order to be effective, a finishing system has to contain abrasive particles with higher hardness than the inorganic filler particles of the composite. Otherwise, during the finishing and polishing steps, the resin-rich superficial layer (which has poor physical and mechanical properties) will be removed, and the filler particles will remain into bold relief on the surface layer [23,24]. Composites containing small filler particles will provide after finishing and polishing a smoother surface than the ones containing larger-sized filler particles [25,26].

It was demonstrated that a composite surface roughness higher than 0.2 μm will prone the composite surface to bacterial plaque retention, increased risk for secondary caries onset and for periodontal inflammation, and will affect the aesthetic aspect and the longevity of the restoration [27]. Some studies have shown that many of the finishing and polishing systems on the market lead to a smooth surface, with mean Ra values varying from 0.02 μm to 0.56 μm [28, 29]. In our study using tungsten carbide burs with the one-step polishing system Occlubrush and tungsten carbide burs with the two-step Sof-Lex finishing system determined the Ra mean value to slightly increase over 0.2 μm. When using tungsten carbide burs and the multi-step Super Snap system, the mean Ra value was lower than 0.2 μm. We can assume that the effect of the finishing and polishing protocol used in this study had a notable clinical significance.

The complex surface structure of a composite resin cannot be fully characterized only by using profilometry. A clear prediction of clinical performance of a restorative material can be made by correlating the roughness parameters calculated by the profile geometry with the morphological surface analysis by scanning electron microscopy, which allows assessing the destructive potential of different finishing and polishing systems [30,31]. Since the quality of the final restoration surface is influenced by the type of the instrument used for finishing and polishing and also by the material structure, choosing the most suitable instrument for a specific material seems to become of great clinical importance.

  1. Conclusion

For Filtek Bulk Fill Posterior (3M ESPE), the smoothest surface was obtained when the material was placed in direct contact with the celluloid matrix.

The use of tungsten carbide burs followed by multi-step Super Snap finishing system determined a lower surface roughness than with the other polishing systems.

Finishing with tungsten carbide burs and two-steps Sof-Lex polishing system and one-step polishing system Occlubrush determined, significantly higher surface roughness than t multi-step Super Snap system.

The surface characteristics of the studied composite resin were influenced by the type of finishing and polishing system used.

Author contributions

Equal contribution to the paper.


Not applicable. The study was self-funded.


  1. Raj R, Gupta R. In vitro evaluation of the effect of two finishing and polishing systems on four esthetic restorative materials. J Conserv Dent. 2013;16(6):564-567. doi: 10.4103/0972-0707.120946. [Full text links] [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(20) Scopus(10)
  2. Yap AU, Yap SH, Teo CK, Ng JJ. Comparison of surface finish of new aesthetic restorative materials. Oper Dent. 2004;29(1):100-104. [PubMed] Google Scholar(110) Scopus(47)
  3. Stoleriu S, Iovan G, Pancu G, Nica I, Andrian S. Study concerning the influence of the finishing and polishing systems on the surface state of various types of composite resins. Rom J Oral Rehab. 2013;5(3):78-83. Google Scholar(2)
  4. Erdemir U, Sancakli HS, Yildiz E. The effect of one-step and multi-step polishing systems on the surface roughness and microhardness of novel resin composites. Eur J Dent. 2012;6(2):198-205. [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(41) Scopus(17)
  5. Nica I, Stoleriu S, Iovan G, Pancu G, Andrian S. Fractal analysis of some restorative Nano-filled composite materials microstructure. Stoma Edu J. 2015;2(1):36-43. Google Scholar(2)
  6. Takanashi E, Kishikawa R, Ikeda M, et al. Influence of abrasive particle size on surface properties of flowable composites. Dent Mater J. 2008;27(6):780-786. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(24) Scopus(16)
  7. Yazici AR, Muftu A. Three dimensional surface profile analysis of different types of flowable restorative resins following different finishing protocols. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2007;8(5):1-11. [PubMed] Google Scholar(20) Scopus(9)
  8. Attar N. The effect of finishing and polishing procedures on the surface roughness of composite resin materials. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2007;8(1):27-35. [PubMed] Google Scholar(119) Scopus(51)
  9. Jefferies SR. Abrasive finishing and polishing in restorative dentistry: a state of art review. Dent Clin North Am. 2007;51(2):379-397, ix. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2006.12.002 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(135) Scopus(51)
  10. Efreifej NS, Oweis YG, Eliades G. The effect of polishing technique on 3-D surface roughness and gloss of dental restorative resin composites. Oper Dent. 2013;38(1):9-20. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(26) Scopus(15)
  11. Jung M, Sehr K, Klimek J. Surface texture of four nanofilled and one hybrid composite after finishing. Oper Dent. 2007;32(1):45- 52. doi: 10.2341/06-9. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(107) Scopus(48)
  12. Yap AU, Mok BY. Surface finish of a new hybrid aesthetic restorative material. Oper Dent. 2002;27(2):161-166. [PubMed] Google Scholar(75) Scopus(45)
  13. Sarac D, Sarac YS, Kulunk S, Ural C, Kulunk T. The effect of polishing techniques on the surface roughness and color change of composite resins. J Prosthet Dent. 2006;96(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/j. prosdent.2006.04.012 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(173) Scopus(67)
  14. Uctasli MB, Bala O, Gull A. Surface roughness of flowable and packable composite resin materials after finishing with abrasive disc. J Oral Rehabil. 2004;31(12):1197-2002. doi:10.1111/j.1365- 2842.2004.01341.x [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(54) Scopus(24)
  15. Endo T, Finger WJ, Kanehira M, Utterodt A, Komatsu M. Surface texture and roughness of polished nanofill and nanohybrid resin composites. Dent Mater J. 2010;29(2):213-223. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(82) Scopus(34)
  16. Grădinaru I, Ignat L, Dascălu CG, Soroaga LV, Antohe ME. Studies regarding the architectural design of various composites and nanofibres used in dental medicine. Rev Chim.(Bucharest). 2018;69(2):328-331. Google Scholar(0) Scopus(0)
  17. Joniot SB, Gregoire GL, Auther AM, Roques YM. Three-dimensional optical perfilometry analysis of surface states obtained after finishing sequences for three composite resins. Oper Dent. 2000;25(4):311-315. [PubMed] Google Scholar(87)
  18. Pettini F, Corsalini M, Savino MG, et al. Roughness analysis on composite materials (Microfilled, Nanofilled and Silorane) after different finishing and polishing procedures. Open Dent J. 2015;9:357-367. doi: 10.2174/1874210601509010357. eCollection 2015. [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(7) Scopus(3)
  19. Chinelatti MA, Thomazatti Chimello D, Pereira Ramos R, Palma- Dibb RG. Evaluation of the surface hardness of composite resins before and after polishing at different times. J Appl Oral Sci. 2006;14(3):188-192. [Full text links] [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(25) Scopus(11)
  20. Kumari CM, Bhat KM, Bansal R. Evaluation of surface roughness of different restorative composites after polishing using atomic force microscopy. J Conserv Dent. 2016;19(1):56-62. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(7) Scopus(7)
  21. Venturini D, Cenci MS, Demarco FF, Camacho GB, Powers JM. Effect of polishing techniques and time on surface roughness, hardness and microleakage of resin composite restorations. Oper Dent. 2006;31(1):11-17. doi: 10.2341/04-155 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(116) Scopus(51)
  22. Bittencourt Berger S, Muniz Palialol AR, Cavalli V, Giannini M. Surface roughness and staining susceptibility of composite resins after finishing and polishing. J Esthet Restor Dent. 2011;23(1):34- 43. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8240.2010.00376.x. [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(57)
  23. Balan A, Sandu AV, Stoleriu S, Pintiliciuc VS, Toma V. Effect of different finishing and polishing systems on the surface roughness of composite resins. Rev Mat Plast. 2015;52(1):55-57. Google Scholar(4) Scopus(10)


  1. Schmidlin PR, Göhring TN. Finishing tooth-colored restorations in vitro: an index of surface alteration and finish-line destruction. Oper Dent. 2004;29(1):80-86. [PubMed] Google Scholar(30) Scopus(15)
  2. Baciu ER, Ben Amor H, Calamaz D, Baciu M, Grădinaru I. Study regarding the profile of finished surfaces of some direct composite resins. Rom J Oral Rehab. 2016;8(3):19-25. Google Scholar(0)
  3. Patel B, Chhabra N, Jain D. Effect of different polishing systems on the surface roughness of nano-hybrid composites. J Conserv Dent. 2016;19(1):37-40. doi: 10.4103/0972-0707.173192. [Full text links] [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(4) Scopus(3)
  4. Kakaboura A, Fragouli M, Rahiotis C, Silikas N.Evaluation of surface characteristics of dental composites using profilometry, scanning electron, atomic force microscopy and gloss-meter. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2007;18(1):155-163. doi: 10.1007/s10856-006-0675-8 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(162) Scopus(86)
  5. Baroudi K, Rodrigues JC. Flowable resin composites: a systematic review and clinical considerations. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(6):ZE18-24. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2015/12294.6129. [Free PMC Article] [PubMed] Google Scholar(28) Scopus(6)
  6. Baseren M. Surface roughness of nanofill and nanohybrid composite resin and ormocer-based tooth-colored restorative materials after several finishing and polishing procedures. J Biomater Appl. 2004;19(2):121-134. doi: 10.1177/0885328204044011 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(144) Scopus(69)
  7. Ergücü Z, Türkün LS. Surface roughness of novel resin composites polished with one-step systems. Oper Dent. 2007;32(2):185-192. doi: 10.2341/06-56 [Full text links] [PubMed] Google Scholar(107) Scopus(51)

31. Uctasli MB, Arisu HD, Omürlü H, et al. The effect of different finishing and polishing systems on the surface roughness of different composite restorative materials. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2007;8(2):89-96. [PubMed] Google Scholar(57) Scopus(18)

Irina NICA

DMD, MSc, PhD, Assistant Professor

Department of Odontology – Periodontology and Fixed Prosthodontics

Faculty of Dental Medicine, “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy

Jassy, Romania



Doctor Irina Nica is Assistant Professor of Cariology and Operative Dentistry at the Faculty of Dental Medicine, “Gr. T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy Jassy, Romania. She graduated from the Faculty of Stomatology of the “Gr. T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Jassy (2001). She is a Board Certified Physician in the specialty “General Stomatology” (2005). In 2012 she obtained her PhD title in medical sciences with a thesis entitled “Theoretical and experimental contributions to nanomaterials usage in dental medicine”. Her main research field is Restorative Dentistry.

Figures and tables are shown in pdf document

(read pdf)