Although some dentists advocate repairing dental restorations such as tooth-colored fillings rather than replacing them, a new study shows that repaired restorations are significantly more likely to fail than replaced ones.

A Large, Multi-Practice Study

handsome man shows off his smileThis new study was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, and is based on data from the dental practice-based research network (DPBRN). There are several benefits of the DPBRN, but also some disadvantages. With nearly 200 dentists participating in the DPBRN, it allows for large pools of data that can be used to make conclusions about many different areas of dental practice. Because it’s a real-world data pool, too, it reflects what dentists are really doing in their practices, not the ideal conditions of a laboratory practice. But being a real-world data set makes it harder to isolate actual causes and effects.

Repair or Replace?

For the purposes of this study on reconstructive dentistry, nearly 6000 restorations from nearly 4500 patients were considered. About 4400 were replaced, and about 1500 were repaired. The restorations were evaluated after a year to determine whether they were acceptable or needed additional work. The repaired restorations were more likely to need additional work, about 7%, compared to about 5% of replaced restorations that needed additional work.

Although repaired restorations performed about 50% worse than replaced ones, there was a tradeoff. Replaced dental work was more likely to need more serious treatments, such as root canals, extraction, or additional replacement.

Other Factors to Consider

But repaired or replaced restorations was not the only factor that led to increased need for additional treatment. Other factors that contributed to the need for additional work were:

  • Location of the restoration
  • Type of the restoration
  • Cause of initial retreatment
  • Size of the restoration
  • Dental practice

Restorations located on the molars were more likely to need additional work, as were metal amalgam fillings and fractured restorations. Restorations involving more than one surface of the tooth were more likely to need additional work. And a restoration was more likely to need additional work if it was placed by a dentist in a large group practice

At Rice Dentistry, we use best practices to ensure optimal care for our patients, including placing restorations that are less likely to need additional work. If you are looking for a small practice that values its patients, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry.