The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of different adhesive application methods and etching modes on the dentin bond durability of universal adhesives under thermal cycling (TC). All-Bond Universal (Bisco), Adhese Universal (Ivoclar Vivadent), and Scotchbond Universal (3M ESPE) were used as adhesives. In total, 600 bovine teeth with exposed dentin were divided into 12 groups according to the type of adhesive and subjected to the following bonding procedures: 1) etch-and-rinse mode with active application; 2) etch-and-rinse mode with inactive application; 3) self-etch mode with active application; and 4) self-etch mode with inactive application. Bonded specimens were stored in distilled water at 378C for 24 hours and then subjected to 5000, 10,000, 30,000, or 50,000 TC between 58C and 558C before shear bond strength (SBS) testing, creating a division into a total of five different storage conditions. Baseline specimens were stored in distilled water at 378C for 24 hours. The SBS test was performed at a cross-head speed of 1.0 mm/min. Three-way analysis of variance revealed that all the factors of application mode, adhesive, and thermal cycle period significantly influenced the SBS values (p,0.001), regardless of the etching mode. In the baseline groups, all of the tested adhesives with active application had higher SBS values than those with inactive application, regardless of etching mode. In the TC groups, significantly lower SBS values were observed at 50,000 TC with inactive application compared to those with active application, regardless of the etching mode. From the scanning electron microscopy observation of demineralized and deproteinized resin/dentin interfaces, dense resin tags longer than 50 lm were observed in the etch-and-rinse with active application group. On the other hand, the resin tags in self-etch mode were sparse, thin, and much shorter than those in etch-and-rinse mode. Comparing the penetration status of the resin tags with active and inactive application in self-etch mode, the resin tag penetration with inactive application was much lower than that with active application. Active application is effective in enhancing the dentin bond durability of universal adhesives. When using universal adhesives with different etching modes, practitioners should select the optimal etching mode and appropriate application method in accordance with the cavity conditions.
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