Should my composite restorations last forever? Why are they failing?
Abstract Composites resins have become the first choice for direct anterior and posterior restorations. The great popularity is related to their esthetic appearance and reduced need of sound tissue removal as compared with former treatments. Several studies have demonstrated that composite restorations may last long in clinical service. In this review we discuss the factors playing a role on the long-term longevity. Composite restorations have demonstrated a good clinical performance with annual failure rates varying from 1% to 3% in posterior teeth and 1% to 5% in anterior teeth. Factors related to the patients such as caries risk and occlusal stress risk, in addition to socioeconomic factors, may affect the survival significantly. Characteristics of the clinical operators, particularly their decision making when it comes to observing or approaching an existing restoration, are decisive for longevity. Cavity features such as the number of restored walls, composite volume, and presence of endodontic treatment are of major importance and may dictate the service time of the restorative approach. The choice of restorative composite seems to have a minor effect on longevity provided that appropriate technical procedures are used. The main reasons for failure in posterior teeth are secondary caries and fracture (restoration or tooth/restoration), while in anterior teeth esthetic concerns are the main reasons leading to restoration failures. Composite resin restorations can be considered a reliable treatment as long as both the professional and the patient are aware of the factors involved in restoration failures.