An in vitro investigation of the flexural strength and microstructure of "stick glass fiber" and "wire mesh" reinforced heat cured denture base acrylic
Globally in the field of Dental Technology, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) resin continues to be the popular material for the fabrication of denture bases in removable prosthodontics. However, the mechanical strength of the denture base is a concern due to fractures occurring intra-orally or when accidentally dropped. The objective of this in vitro investigation was therefore to evaluate and compare the flexural strength and microstructure of stick® glass fibre and wire mesh reinforced PMMA resin after thermocycling. The selection of the materials used in this study was based primarily on their popularity and availability in South Africa. These materials were selected to ensure that the results of this study would have further implicational value in the commercial dental industry when published. This investigation was conducted by means of fabricating a total of 90 PMMA resin specimens and divided in three groups consisting of 30 specimens each. Sample groups 1 and 2 were reinforced with stick® glass fibres and wire mesh respectively. The un-reinforced sample group was the control. All 90 specimens were thermocycled in water at temperatures between 5˚C and 55˚C for 2100 cycles. The flexural strength of each specimen was tested using a universal testing machine and the microstructure of the fractured surfaces was then analysed using scanning electron microscopes (SEM). SPSS version 15.0 was used for data analysis. A p-value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Data were analysed using parametric and non-parametric statistical methods. Statistically significant differences in flexural strength existed between the three sample groups (p<0.001) with the stick® glass fibre and wire mesh sample groups being significantly superior to the control. Furthermore there was a significant association between fracture modes and sample groups. Microscopic analysis revealed the presence of voids. Statistically, in terms of microstructure (% of voids present), a significant difference existed between all sample groups. With regards to surface texture of the compression and tension sides of the test specimens, significant differences existed between the three sample groups. Furthermore microscopic analysis revealed partial impregnation and distribution of the fibres to the PMMA resin matrix and un-bonding between the wire mesh and PMMA resin matrix. Statistically, the Mann-Whitney test was conducted to compare flexural strength between sample groups with and without voids. The flexural strength was higher in sample groups with voids than those without. This is an important finding from the clinical perspective because, in some structures of dentures, toughness is a desired property. Nevertheless in order to find the long-term data especially on clinical behaviour of these new fibre reinforcement systems, more studies should be conducted.