Industry Secrets: The Art Of Etching

A History 

Dr. Buonocore

Over 40 years ago adhesive dentistry originated from the vision and dedication of a single dental scientist. In 1955, Michael F. Buonocore discovered that resin filling could be durably bonded to etched enamel, introducing a technique which remains in use today.

(Right) Dr. Michael Buonocore working in his lab



How Have Things Changed?

Exposure Time

Whilst Buonocore applied Phosphoric acid to the enamel surface for 30 seconds, experience has taught us that a simple 20 second exposure is sufficient to condition both dentin and enamel.

Phosphoric Acid Liquid Vs. Phosphoric Acid Gel

Many have progressed from using the liquid form of Phosphoric acid to a gel form. Whilst the liquid form of Phosphoric acid provides the user with effective coverage, the gel form has risen in popularity; providing the user with added control.

The Ideal Etchant

ultraetch syringe_BONDETCH copy

The ideal etchant must effectively cover the tooth structure, penetrating even the smallest fissures. Placement must be extremely precise, with the etchant possessing properties which enable it to remain in the defined placement site. Additionally, the model etchant must provide quick and easy clean up; rinsing cleanly, leaving behind no residue. Finally, it is desirable to work with a coloured etchant, assisting with application and visibility.

Recognising these requirements, Ultradent have developed innovative Etchant - Ultra-Etch. Perfect for etching before bonding composites, sealants or adhesives, Ultra-Etch can be placed in any location - this includes lingual approaches to Class lll restorations.

The Perfect Balance

Ultra-etch in use

It is critical that an etchant must stay in the location it is placed, whilst simultaneously remaining viscous enough to adequately penetrate and etch the deep pits and fissures of the tooth. Ultra-Etch strikes this perfect balance, staying precisely where the clinician places it, without running or unintendingly etching other areas of the tooth.


Over etching is prevented by Ultra-Etch’s self-limiting properties, which essentially means that the dentin is decalcified to a depth of approximately 1.2 microns (the ideal depth to create an optimal bond). Ensuring prime conditions for resin impregnation and bonding, Ultra-Etch features balanced, gel- thickening properties, which act as a buffer to the acid. By contrast, other etchants available on the market of a similar strength, can etch up to six times the depth Ultra-Etch (resulting in less favourable results).


Tip Choice

inspiral close

For your convenience, Ultra-Etch can be used with the signature Blue Micro Tip or an Inspiral Brush Tip.

The signature delivery method (the micro blue tip), measures 0.05mm in diameter; enabling the practitioner to etch with precise and complete control. The needle like tip, allows even the finest lines to be etched directly from the pre-filled syringe, providing control and precision in the smallest of areas.

The inspiral brush tip (pictured right) is ideal for working on flat surfaces, lowering the viscosity for easier application, allowing deep penetration of every surface of the tooth.

(Below) Ultra-Etch Application With Inspiral Brush Tip



No Residue

3-1Clinicians require quality bonding, which can be rinsed cleanly, with no residue left behind. Ultra-Etch meets these requirements, showing that even under very strong magnification virtually no residue remains. Ultra-Etch also facilitates further ease of use, with its distinctive blue colour, enhancing proper placement and ensuring complete removal.  

(Right) Precision Placement With 0.05mm Tip & Easy placement with Distinctive Blue colour

Peace of Mind

Providing complete peace of mind, Ultra-Etch prevents over etching with its unique self-limiting chemistry. Its variable viscosity prevents premature drying and inadequate etching; whilst its easy placement and rinsing, provides the ultimate convenience. With precision placement, Ultra-Etch can penetrate both flat surfaces and the smallest fissures. 

To find out more about Ultra-Etch call us on +44 (0) 1943 60 50 50 or email

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