All materials added to teeth should present an adequate radiopacity to allow the detection of secondary caries. Usually, in extensive cavities, base materials like calcium hydroxide cement are used for the purpose of protecting the pulp. In an attempt to improve the efficiency of radiographic detection of this material, this study aimed to determine the radiopacity of three calcium hydroxide cements and to compare the radiopacity of these materials with dentin and enamel. Radiographs were taken of 1-mm thick specimens of three calcium hydroxide cements: Hydro-C, Dycal and Life, an aluminium stepwedge, a lead foil, and one 1-mm thick human tooth slice. Densitometric measurements were obtained after radiographic processing. The radiopacity values of the calcium hydroxide cements, dentin and enamel were expressed in terms of the equivalent thickness of aluminium. The analysis of variance indicated statistically significant difference only for Life, which presented the lowest radiopacity when compared to the other cements. However, all cements and enamel possessed a radiopacity equivalent to 2mm Al, while dentin presented a radiopacity equivalent to 1mm Al. All tested cements presented a similar radiopacity to that of enamel and they meet the ISO 4049 specifications.
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