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Information is lacking as to the effect on bond strength of the etching modes of universal adhesives when they are used to bond dual-polymerizing composite resins to dentin.The purpose of this in vitro study was to investigate the bonding of dual-polymerizing foundation composite resins to dentin when universal bonding agents are used in self-etch or etch-and-rinse modes.Sixty caries-free, extracted third molar teeth were sectioned transversely in the apical third of the crown and allocated to 12 groups (n=5). Three different bonding agents (Scotchbond Universal, OptiBond XTR, All-Bond Universal) were used to bond 2 different dual-polymerizing composite resins (CompCore AF or CoreFlo DC) to dentin, using 2 different etching approaches (etch-and-rinse or self-etch). The specimens were sectioned into sticks (1×1×8 mm) with a precision saw. The bond strength of the specimens was tested under microtensile force at a crosshead speed of 0.5 mm/min. The data were analyzed using a 3-way ANOVA, a Games-Howell post hoc comparisons model, and Student t tests with Bonferroni corrections (α=.05).In the overall model, the composite resin used had no effect on bond strength (P=.830). The etching protocol by itself also did not have a significant effect (P=.059), although a trend was present. The bonding agent, however, did have an effect (P<.001) on bond strength. Also, a significant interaction effect was found for the bonding agent and etching protocol on bond strength (P<.001). The etching protocol influenced the bond strength when Scotchbond Universal (P<.008) and All-Bond Universal (P<.004) were used but not when OptiBond XTR was used (P=1.00). A self-etch protocol provided significantly higher bond strength when Scotchbond Universal was used, whereas with All-Bond Universal, an etch-and-rinse protocol, provided higher bond strength.When universal bonding agents were used to secure dual-polymerizing composite resins to dentin, no single etching protocol is better than another. Depending on which bonding agent is being used, one etching mode may perform better.