Dental materials’ properties
The properties of dental materials are important to the dental professional when deciding how they are indicated in use. When selecting a dental material, there are many influences that must be taken into account. These include:
- the patient’s medical history
- the oral cavity environment
- the degree of masticatory force
- contact effects on oral tissues
- toxic effects in the event of ingestion and inhalation
This chapter aims to define some of the important terms used in relation to the properties of dental materials that must be taken into consideration during their selection. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of terms; there are many good dental dictionaries available for reference. If you need further information, see the Further reading section at the end of this chapter.
Dental materials can react to different acidities in the oral cavity. The pH of the oral cavity is normally around 7.0 (7.5 is neutral). Extrinsic sources (e.g. foods) may change the acidic properties. Saliva acts as a natural buffer and aids in reducing the acidity of the oral cavity. It is important for dental professionals to understand how different levels of acidity affect dental materials, as this determines the use and usability (the ease of use) of the dental material. The acidity of dental materials can also affect the oral cavity and surrounding tissues, which is also important for the dental team to understand.
Adhesion can be chemical or physical and relates to the way two unlike substances are held together.
Aesthetics refers to the pleasant appearance of the dental material once placed in the patient’s oral cavity. Some materials, such as composite, allow the operator to choose the shade or colour of the material used in order to closely match it to the natural colour of the tooth.
Biocompatibility is the biologic response of the body to the use of a specific material. Responses may include irritation, sensitivity and toxicity. A biocompatible material will not cause a negative/>