Photo courtesy of Vista Dental
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Pearls for Your Practice: Therma-Flo Composite Warming Kit by Vista Dental

Sept. 1, 2020
Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, reviews Vista’s easy-to-use composite warming system. Warming composite increases the depth of cure and does not adversely affect the strength, hardness, color stability.

My DVR is set to record any episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary film series. I don’t think there have been any that I did not enjoy. The commercials for 30 for 30 are always great. They always start with a simple quote before presenting the premise: “What if I told you…” It always draws me in.

In that vein, what if I told you that you could make resin composite easier to manipulate, faster, stronger, and more predictable? Well, you can and you should. All you have to do is heat it up. Therma-Flo Composite Warming Kit can help you with that.

Heating composite is really one of the best things you can do to make your restorations as efficient and predictable as possible. The key to heating composite is getting it up to 155°F. At 155°F, resin composite becomes less viscous. This allows for better flow and adaptability to the internal walls of the preparation, decreasing voids and bubbles. According to a 2010 study, highly filled resin composites flowed up to 10 times better when heated.1 For class II restorations, this can be a lifesaver.

You might think that getting this increase in flow and adaptability would be at the loss of some other characteristic. Wrong! Heating composite does not adversely affect the strength, hardness, color stability, or depth of cure. In fact, heating composite increases the depth of cure.2

You might also be concerned about the temperature of the heated composite affecting the pulp, but according to one study in 2007, the slight increase in heat causes no damage to the pulp or sensitivity.3  So basically, heating resin composite gives you a bunch of advantages, with only one real disadvantage—the logistics of heating composite in your operatory.

When I was in dental school, we would heat composite by putting compules in a zippered plastic bag and submerging it into a hot water bath. It was clunky and messy and probably pretty inaccurate. By using a Therma-Flo, we can heat composite in a much neater, easier, and more accurate way. The Therma-Flo unit sits on your operatory counter and consistently heats up your composite to the magic number, 155°F. The Therma-Flo has slots for composite guns, compules, and even flowable syringes.

You should allow about 30 minutes for the Therma-Flo to reach the proper temperature and heat your composite. We turn ours on first thing in the morning and off at the end of the day with no issues. Once you try heated composite, you won’t want to go back. Triple to deep center field for Therma-Flo! 

References

  1. Lucey S, Lynch CD, Ray NJ, Burke FM, Hannigan A. Effect of pre-heating on the viscosity and microhardness of a resin composite. J Oral Rehabil. 2010;37(4):278-282. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2842.2009.02045.x
  2. Burtscher P, Rheinberger V. Temperature influence on the depth of cure of a composite. J Dent Res. 2005;84(Spec Iss A):1345.
  3. Daronch M, Rueggeberg FA, Hall G, De Goes MF. Effect of composite temperature on in vitro intrapulpal temperature rise. Dent Mater. 2007;23(10):1283-1288. doi:10.1016/j.dental.2006.11.024
Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, writes the Pearls for Your Practice column in Dental Economics. After graduating from the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School, Dr. Austin associated for several years. In October of 2009, he opened a solo general practice in a suburban area of San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Austin is involved in all levels of organized dentistry and can be reached at [email protected].
About the Author

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, is a graduate and former faculty member of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry. Author of Dental Economics’ Pearls for Your Practice column, Dr. Austin lectures nationally on products, dental technology, online reputation management, and social media. He maintains a full-time restorative dentistry private practice in San Antonio, Texas. You may contact Dr. Austin at [email protected].

Updated June 21, 2023

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