Aim: To evaluate the effects of repeated autoclave sterilization cycles on surface topography of conventional nickel-titanium (NiTi) and titanium nitride (TiN)-coated rotary instruments. Methodology: A total of 60 NiTi rotary instruments, 30 ProTaper (Dentsply Maillefer) and 30 TiN -coated AlphaKite (Komet/Gebr. Brasseler), were analysed. Instruments were evaluated in the as-received condition and after 1, 5 and 10 sterilization cycles. After sterilization, the samples were observed using scanning electron microscope (SEM), and surface chemical analysis was performed on each instrument with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Moreover, the samples were analysed by atomic force microscopy (AFM), and roughness average (Ra) and the root mean square value (RMS) of the scanned surface profiles were recorded. Data were analysed by means of anova followed by Tukey's test. Result: Scanning electron microscope observations revealed the presence of pitting and deep milling marks in all instruments. EDS analysis confirmed that both types of instruments were composed mainly of nickel and titanium, whilst AlphaKite had additional nitride. After multiple autoclave sterilization cycles, SEM examinations revealed an increase in surface alterations, and EDS values indicated changes in chemical surface composition in all instruments. Ra and RMS values of ProTaper significantly increased after 5 (P = 0.006) and 10 cycles (P = 0.002) with respect to the as-received instruments, whilst AlphaKite showed significant differences compared with the controls after 10 cycles (P = 0.03). Conclusions: Multiple autoclave sterilization cycles modified the surface topography and chemical composition of conventional and TiN -coated NiTi rotary instruments.
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