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The Ultimate Finishing and Polishing Guide for Anterior Composite Restorations 

Proper finishing and polishing of composite resin is critical for the long term success of the dental restoration. Our guide shows step-by-step techniques for esthetic success covering everything from shape and contour, elimination of pits/defects, secondary anatomy, surface texture, surface polish, and final gloss.
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What's inside

There are distinct and separate steps to finish and polish the composite work after the resin has been polymerized.
Chapter 1

Shape and contour

How to establish line angles, light reflective zones and light deflective zones, height of contour, interproximal embrasures, and facial planes. 
Chapter 2

Elimination of pits/defects

The steps necessary for repairing a pit at the time of composite placement (clinical photos and illustrations included).
Chapter 3

Secondary anatomy

Contouring to create the lobes, ridges and valleys seen in natural teeth. 
Chapter 4

Surface polish

Enhanced soft tissue health and a reduced risk of recurrent caries with the ideally polished composite restoration.
Chapter 5

Surface texture

Techniques to create surface texturing based on the desire of the patient or the dentist.
Chapter 6

Final gloss

Proper instrumentation and materials for long term success of the composite restoration. 

Frequently asked questions

What do you polish composite with?

To achieve the ultimate polish, discs should be used for anterior composites. You may also use rubber polishing systems that come in one, two, or three successive grits. It is imperative that the dentist is aware of the composite material they are polishing. The materials for polishing microhybrids, nanofills and microfills may differ and appropriate polishing protocol is critical for long term success of the restoration.

Why is it important to finish and polish a composite restoration after it is placed?

Proper polishing of composite resin is critical for the long term success of the dental restoration. Beyond the esthetic sacrifices of incomplete or improper polishing, poorly polished composite can lead to increased risk of decay, gingival inflammation and staining of the restoration.

Frequently in clinical situations, insufficient time and attention is brought to the polishing of the composite, leading to staining and premature failure of the restoration. This lack of attention, coupled with poor technique and inadequate understanding of the material, can lead to patient and clinician disappointment. 

What is the difference between finishing and polishing?

There are distinct and separate steps to finish the composite work after the resin has been polymerized. Prior to initiating the polishing sequence, the composite restoration must be appropriately contoured. The facial and incisal surfaces of the composite restoration must be reduced and refined to blend with the natural dentition or natural tooth form. 

Proper polishing of the composite restoration will create a smooth, defect free restoration that will be easily maintained by the patient with reduced risk for future staining. Enhanced soft tissue health and a reduced risk of recurrent caries should be anticipated with the ideally polished composite restoration.

What does a rubber cup polishing do?

Rubber polishing systems come in one, two, or three successive grits. The rubber polishers are impregnated with micro diamond or alumina particles that help to eliminate surface defects and bring a polish to the composite material. Water spray to keep the tooth cool while polishing is recommended as overheating the tooth is possible when using rubber or silicone polishers.

How do you use Finishing Discs?

The facial and incisal surfaces of the composite restoration must be reduced and refined to blend with the natural dentition or natural tooth form. Excess composite should removed with the use of diamond burs, esthetic trimming carbide burs or coarse discs.

Save time and eliminate stress with this handy finishing and polishing composite guide.