Objectives: This study investigated the effectiveness of acid etching and bond strength in an orthodontic bonding system in accordance with various time periods after 1.23% acidulated phosphate fluoride (APF) gel applications. Materials and methods: APF gel was applied on the enamel surface of bovine teeth, which were assigned to group F0. The tooth specimens were then immersed in distilled water for 1 (F1), 7 (F7), 14 (F14), 21 (F21) and 28 (F28) days. A group without fluoride pretreatment was a control group. All groups were etched with 35% phosphoric acid and evaluated using a surface hardness tester and scanning electron microscope (SEM). A shear bond strength (SBS) test was performed using a universal testing machine, and the bond failure modes were also examined. Results: After the 1.23% APF gel treatment, the hardness of the acid-etched enamel surface decreased as the immersion period increased. SEM images of the test groups showed etched patterns similar to control group as the immersion period increased. The SBS increased with increasing immersion period, whereas group F21 was not significantly different from the control group. Relatively high adhesive remnant index scores were identified as the ageing period increased. Conclusions: The present study indicated that in order to obtain suitable bond strength, it is recommended to use an acid etching-based bonding system for the fixation of orthodontic appliances on the enamel surface 21 days after the use of APF gel. Clinical relevance: Fluoride pre-treatment interferes with the acid etching effects on enamel, causing a reduction in the bond strength with orthodontic brackets.
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