Purpose: Despite the different light sources and polymerization techniques developed to eliminate it, microleakage of resin composite still remains a problem. This in vitro study was designed to compare the effects of exponential mode soft-start polymerization with those of standard and high-intensity continuous light polymerization on microleakage in Class II resin composite restorations. Materials and Methods: Standardized Class II cavities (4 mm wide, 4 mm long, 5 to 6 mm high, 2 mm deep) were prepared in 50 extracted human molars. Specimens were divided into 5 groups (n = 10) and restored using the same hybrid resin composite (Z250), but separately polymerized by one of five different methods: group 1: continuous halogen light polymerization for 40 s; group 2: continuous high-intensity halogen light polymerization for 10 s; group 3: exponential mode soft-start halogen light polymerization for a total of 40 s; group 4: continuous LED light polymerization for 40 s; Group 5: exponential mode soft-start LED light polymerization for a total of 40 s. All specimens were thermocycled for 1000 cycles at 5°C to 55°C and then placed in 0.5% basic fuchsin dye for 24 h. Specimens were then rinsed, embedded in resin and sectioned longitudinally. Dye penetration at occlusal and cervical margins was rated using a scale of 0 to 4. Data was analyzed using Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U-tests. Results: Significantly lower marginal leakage was recorded with exponential mode soft-start polymerization when compared to continuous light polymerization. No significant differences in microleakage were observed between LED and halogen light polymerization. Conclusion: Within the limits of this in vitro study, the use of the soft-start exponential mode of LED and/or halogen light units in the polymerization of hybrid composite was found to produce significantly lower microleakage at both occlusal and cervical margins when compared to continuous light polymerization methods.
Keywords: composite resin, soft-start polymerization, halogen, LED