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In vitro evaluation of shape-memory hydrogels for removable dental prostheses and optimization of phase-transition temperature for intraoral use.

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM: Removable dental prostheses require periodic relining with the loss of intaglio surface fit because of mucosal shape changes over time. Therefore, a new material with high adaptability to tissue changes over time would be beneficial.

PURPOSE: This study focused on a shape-memory gel (SMG) that softens when heated, retains its shape when cooled, and returns to its original shape when reheated. The purpose was to optimize SMG for intraoral use by controlling the ratio of 2 acrylate monomers and to evaluate the changes in the shape memory and physical properties of SMG with temperature and to evaluate biocompatibility.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: SMG specimens were synthesized using the following mixing ratios of 2 monomers, docosyl acrylate (DA) and stearyl acrylate (SA): 0:100, 25:75, 50:50, 75:25, and 100:0. SMG specimens were photopolymerized using a fluorescent light-polymerizing unit. To evaluate shape memory as a function of temperature, permanent deformation was measured based on the standardized compression set test for thermoplastic rubber. For evaluation of the physical properties and cytotoxicity, a 3-dimensionally printed denture base material was used as the control material. All assessments were compared between the groups by using 1-way analysis of variance followed by the Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison test (α=.05).

RESULTS: SMGs with a higher amount of DA maintained their compressed shape at room and intraoral temperatures. However, the SMG matrices softened and recovered their original shapes above 60 °C. SMGs showed Shore A hardness equivalent to that of the denture-base polymer material at intraoral temperatures because of the high phase-transition temperature. The low water solubility of SMGs supported the biocompatibility test results.

CONCLUSIONS: SMG, in which the phase-transition temperature was controlled by mixing acrylate monomers with different melting points, exhibited shape memory in the intraoral environment. The results indicate the feasibility of applying SMG for the fabrication of removable dental prostheses because of its high adaptability to tissue changes over time and biocompatibility.

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