In the last issue of The New Dentist, I wrote about flowable composites and their use in restorative dentistry. Since the publication of the article, my flowable usage has decreased significantly. Many clinicians use flowable composite to line the floor and line angles of class II composites. In addition, I use flowable for ultra-conservative preparations that are too small to consistently pack regular composite into. Recently, I have begun modifying regular composite to allow for this ultra-conservative use. By heating regular composite to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the viscosity of the composite is increased greatly. This causes the regular composite to flow much more like flowable composite and conform to the small preparation better.
I am now using heated composite for almost all posterior resin restorations. The composite can be heated in a couple of different ways. A messy but cheap way is to let the composite compules soak in a hot water bath for about 15 minutes prior to placement. This way works, but is not as nearly slick as the CalSet Compule Heater. This handy piece of equipment can be purchased through almost any dental supply house and costs around $300. It keeps 4 compules of composite at the prerequisite 130 degrees and can maintain that safely all day long. My assistants turn it on in the morning and load it with compules. The composite stays hot all day long and is not affected by repeated heating and cooling cycles.
Heated composite is a great way to make the material more viscous and flowable without trading strength and wear resistance. Try it!