Prediction and diagnosis of clinical outcomes affecting restoration margins

Summary  The longevity of dental restorations is largely dependent on the continuity at the interface between the restorative material and adjacent tooth structure (the restoration margin). Clinical decisions on restoration repair or replacement are usually based upon the weakest point along that margin interface. Physical properties of a restorative material, such as polymerisation shrinkage, water sorption, solubility, elastic modulus and shear strength, all have an effect on stress distribution and can significantly affect margin integrity. This review will focus on two aspects of margin deterioration in the oral environment: the in vitro testing of margin seal using emersion techniques to simulate the oral environment and to predict clinical margin failure and the relationship between clinically observable microleakage and secondary caries. The many variables associated with in vitro testing of marginal leakage and the interpretation of the data are presented in detail. The most recent studies of marginal leakage mirror earlier methodology and lack validity and reliability. The lack of standardised testing procedures makes it impossible to compare studies or to predict the clinical performance of adhesive materials. Continual repeated in vitro studies contribute little to the science in this area. Clinical evidence is cited to refute earlier conclusions that clinical microleakage (penetrating margin discoloration) leads to caries development and is an indication for restoration replacement. Margin defects, without visible evidence of soft dentin on the wall or base of the defect, should be monitored, repaired or resealed, in lieu of total restoration replacement.


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