The use of PTFE tape in restorative dentistry
PTFE tape has a number of useful applications in dentistry.
The use of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape in dentistry is growing in popularity worldwide, due to its ease of use, low cost and multiple applications. PTFE tape can be purchased from dental suppliers at a low cost, and comes in a variety of different brands and thicknesses, the most common being 0.02mm or 0.075mm (Figure 1).
Benefits include its moisture resistance, tear resistance, and the ability to adhere to and be adapted to different surfaces. Due to its high melting point (over 300°C), it can be autoclaved to ensure that it is sterile before use. For longer sections, it can be wrapped around a tongue depressor (Figure 2).
PTFE tape can be used for a multitude of different procedures, including restoration of implants, where it is often utilised to seal an abutment screw before sealing the access openings. In guided tissue and bone regeneration techniques, PTFE membranes act as a mechanical hindrance to prevent invasive proliferation of connective tissue cells, while protecting the wound from mechanical disruption and salivary contamination. Some restorative uses of PTFE tape will be discussed in this article. Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
Some of the most common applications of PTFE tape in general restorative dentistry include:
- Isolation during composite fillings.
- Isolation when fitting indirect restorations (crowns, veneers, etc.).
- In lieu of retraction cord during restorative treatment.
- As an intermediate restoration between endodontic appointments.
- Block out material for impression taking.
1. Isolation during composite bonding
One of the best-known uses for PTFE tape in restorative dentistry is for isolating a (usually anterior) tooth in order to prevent restorative materials, such as etchant and bonding agents, encroaching on the adjacent teeth (Figure 3). It can result in better contours and tighter contacts than those traditionally achieved using mylar or clear strips. Some tips include:
- ensure the adjacent teeth are dry to improve adhesion to the tape; and,
- use a microbrush to remove folds that may form.
2. Fitting indirect restorations
Another use of teflon tape is the isolation of adjacent teeth during the seating of a crown or other indirect restoration. Similar to the method described above, the PTFE tape can be placed on adjacent teeth in order to prevent excess cement bonding to them. It can be wrapped closely around adjacent teeth and can be stretched up to twice its original length without splitting. This will result in less time needed to clean off excess cement post fit.
3. In lieu of retraction cord
PTFE is hydrophobic and haemostatic; therefore, placing it in the gingival sulcus can provide great isolation (Figure 4). It has the added benefit of not catching and spinning out if caught by a bur, which sometimes happens with a cord.