The objective of this study was to synthesize and characterize novel hyperbranched poly(acrylic acid)s via atom-transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) technique and tether the photo-curable methacrylate onto the poly(acrylic acid), use these polymers to formulate the resin-modified glass-ionomer cements, and evaluate the mechanical strengths of the formed cements. The hyperbranched poly(acrylic acid)s were synthesized using a self-condensing vinyl polymerization initiator via ATRP. The effects of the concentrations of both catalyst and initiator on molecular weight (MW) and degree of branching (DB) were studied. Compressive, diametral tensile as well as flexural strengths, fracture toughness, hardness and wear-resistance of the experimental cement were evaluated and compared to those of Fuji II LC cement. The specimens were conditioned in distilled water at 37°C for 24h prior to testing. The concentrations of both catalyst and initiator had significant effects on MW and DB of the synthesized polymers. The concentration of the initiator also significantly affected both CS and DTS values of the cement. The experimental cement showed significantly higher mechanical properties, i.e., 53% in CS, 50% in compressive modulus, 125% in DTS, 95% in FS, 21% in FT and 96% in KHN, higher than Fuji II LC. The experimental cement was only 5.4% of abrasive and 6.4% attritional wear depths of Fuji II LC. This study developed a novel resin-modified glass-ionomer cement system composed of newly synthesized hyperbranched poly(acrylic acid)s. It appears that this novel experimental cement is a clinically attractive dental restorative and may potentially be used for high-wear and high-stress-bearing site restorations.
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