Histomorphometric analysis of dentinal bridge formation and pulpal inflammation.


OBJECTIVE The purpose of this study was to evaluate pulpal responses to the use of four resin composite materials as direct pulp capping agents. The importance and effects of individual pulp capping variables are not well understood; consequently histomorphometric analysis was used to analyze these variables. METHOD AND MATERIALS Two hundred fifty standardized pulp-exposed cavities were prepared in nonhuman primate teeth. Exposed pulps were capped with calcium hydroxide and multistep and self-etching primer resin composites. Teeth were collected from 3 to 60 days to observe pulpal reactions. Following perfusion fixation, tissues were demineralized, sectioned, stained, and histomorphometrically measured. Bridge area, diameter of pulpal exposure, and cavity floor width were measured. Tunnel defects, operative debris, and pulpal inflammation were graded according to defined criteria. RESULTS The variables correlated to dentinal bridge area were, in decreasing order of significance, time elapsed since exposure, diameter of pulpal exposure, pulp capping material, and tunnel defects. The variables correlated to pulpal inflammation were the type and curing of pulp capping material. Other variables were not statistically significant. CONCLUSION Pulp capping with resin composite materials provided acceptable pulpal inflammatory and dentinal bridge repair responses, comparable with those of calcium hydroxide. Although resin composites are promising as direct pulp capping agents, further investigations are required to optimize their application protocols to reduce the penetration of potentially cytotoxic monomers into pulpal tissue.