Fabrication and characterization of low-shrinkage dental composites containing montmorillonite nanoclay
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Dental composites are aesthetic materials widely used in Dentistry for replacing hard dental tissues lost due to caries or traumas. The aim of this study was to fabricate low-shrinkage dental composite charged with nanoclay fillers (montmorillonite Cloisite®—MMT) and evaluate their cytotoxicity and physicomechanical properties. Four dental composites were produced from the same organic matrix: Bis-GMA/TEGDMA (30 wt.%). The filler system was constituted of BaSi, SiO2, and MMT in the following concentrations (wt.%): 93.8/6.2/0, 89.1/5.9/5, 86.7/5.8/7.5, and 84.4/5.6/10 (E0: 0; E5: 5%; E7.5: 7.5%; E10: 10% of MMT nanoclays). The following properties were tested: in vitro cytotoxicity, flexural strength, elastic modulus, volumetric shrinkage, water sorption, water solubility, and hygroscopic expansion. Scanning electron microscopy was used to characterize composites’ topography. Data were analyzed by one-way ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD post hoc test (p < 0.05). MMT nanoclays did not affect the cytotoxicity. E5 and E7.5 groups showed a significant decrease in polymerization shrinkage while maintained the overall physicomechanical properties. The inclusion of 5 and 7.5 wt.% of MMT nanoclays allowed the fabrication of dental composites with low cytotoxicity and low polymerization shrinkage, without jeopardizing the overall behaviour of their physicomechanical properties (flexural strength, elastic modulus, water sorption, water solubility, and hygroscopic expansion). These aspects suggest that the usage of MMT nanoclays could be an effective strategy to formulate new dental composites with clinical applicability.