Besides chemically interacting with hard tooth tissue, acidic functional monomers of self-etch adhesives should etch the prepared tooth surface to dissolve the smear layer and to provide surface micro-retention. Although the etching efficacy of functional monomers is commonly determined in terms of pH, the pH of adhesives cannot accurately be measured. Better is to measure the hydroxyapatite (HAp)–dissolving capacity, also considering that functional monomers may form monomer-Ca salts. Here, the etching efficacy of 6 functional monomers (GPDM, phenyl-P, MTEGP, 4-META, 6-MHP and 10-MDP) was investigated. Solutions containing 15 wt% monomer, 45 wt% ethanol, and 40 wt% water were prepared. Initially, we observed enamel surfaces exposed to monomer solution by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). X-ray diffraction (XRD) was employed to detect monomer-Ca salt formation. Phenyl-P exhibited a strong etching effect, while 10-MDP–treated enamel showed substance deposition, which was identified by XRD as 10-MDP–Ca salt. To confirm these SEM/XRD findings, we determined the etching efficacy of functional monomers by measuring both the concentration of Ca released from HAp using inductively coupled plasma–atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) and the amount of monomer-Ca salt formation using 31P magic-angle spinning (MAS) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). ICP-AES revealed that the highest Ca concentration was produced by phenyl-P and the lowest Ca concentration, almost equally, by 4-META and 10-MDP. Only 10-MDP formed 10-MDP–Ca salts, indicating that 10-MDP released more Ca from HAp than was measured by ICP-AES. Part of the released Ca was consumed to form 10-MDP–Ca salts. It is concluded that the repeatedly reported higher bonding effectiveness of 10-MDP–based adhesives must not only be attributed to the more intense chemical bonding of 10-MDP but also to its higher etching potential, a combination the other functional monomers investigated lack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1016
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2018


  • X-ray crystallography
  • adhesives
  • enamel
  • hydroxyapatite
  • microscopy
  • nuclear magnetic resonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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