• Compomer;
  • composite resin;
  • laser curing;
  • resin-modified glass–ionomer;
  • water-sorption

Specimens of light-curable dental restoratives have been prepared using either a conventional dental curing lamp (for 20 or 30 s) or a plasma light (for 1 or 2 s). The specimens were then stored in water until their mass equilibrated, then dried to constant mass. Most specimens lost material in this process but the losses in all specimens cured with the plasma light were significantly greater than those cured with the conventional lights (P < 0·05). Longer cure times gave slightly reduced losses in water in most cases. The specimens were then returned to water and allowed to re-equilibrate and their equilibrium water uptake determined. There was no simple trend in this latter property because elution of loosely bound hydrophilic species may have resulted in a less hydrophilic specimen, whose equilbrium water content was therefore correspondingly lower. Overall, the losses through dissolution in water suggest that plasma curing is less effective for these materials than conventional light curing, as it probably results in material with lower molar mass. The losses for the resin-modified glass–ionomer were much greater than for other materials, and it was concluded that the more rapid polymerization with plasma light caused a significant inhibitation of the acid-base part of the setting process. These findings suggest that long-term durability of materials may be compromised by employing plasma light cure rather than a conventional cure system and further studies of this point are recommended.