Author(s): Lung CY
OBJECTIVES: Residual monomer ([MMA](R)) in denture base acrylic continues to be of concern. The response surface of concentration vs. time and temperature for the equilibration of methyl methacrylate (MMA) and its polymer (PMMA) allows a prediction of the time to the minimum at any temperature for a closed system. It was the purpose here to determine whether this prediction applies to normal denture base processing, and whether optimum conditions could be identified. METHODS: Denture bases were processed following normal laboratory procedures, including pre-cure for 3 h at 70 degrees C for all tests. Commercial powder and liquid were used at either 95 or 100 degrees C, or a plain PMMA powder and the same liquid at 95 degrees C, for times ranging from 5 to 192 h. Residual MMA was determined by gas chromatography. RESULTS: [MMA](R) decreased steadily from approximately 0.25% to as low as approximately 0.07% with increasing time at temperature, but did not approach equilibrium. The rate of diffusive loss of MMA appears to exceed the rate of depolymerization. SIGNIFICANCE: Residual monomer is inevitable for all PMMA-based products no matter what the curing conditions are. However, extended time at high temperature can allow low values to be attained, and the time allowed can compensate for processing temperatures somewhat lower than the ordinarily recommended 100 degrees C. It is suggested that overnight processing at 95 degrees C should be adopted to minimize [MMA](R) and save energy. This result is of importance for work at high altitude.