Aim: To investigate the incidence of and factors associated with pulpal necrosis in vital teeth restored with metal-ceramic crowns (CMCs) or crowned as part of a fixed-fixed bridge.
Methodology: Patients who had a CMC or bridge retainer (BR) placed on a tooth with no previous history of root canal treatment from 1981 to 1989 were retrieved from computer records. The collated patients were randomly selected and their clinical records examined. Those who satisfied the inclusion criteria were contacted and offered a review. After clinical examination, long-cone paralleling periapical radiographs were taken of the selected teeth, which were then assessed by two precalibrated operators to ascertain the pulpal status. Factors that might contribute to loss of pulp vitality and the tooth type were also recorded. The collected data were analysed statistically using the chi-square test and subject to Bonferroni adjustment where indicated.
Results: The numbers of preoperatively vital teeth in the CMC and BR groups were 122 and 77, and the mean observation periods were 169 +/- 25 (SD) and 187 +/- 23 months, respectively. In the CMC group, 19 failed cases (15.6%) were due to an endodontic reason; total number of failures was 34. In the BR group, 25 (32.5%) showed signs of pulpal necrosis; a significant association with maxillary anterior teeth was noted. The survival rates for pulp vitality were 84.4% (CMC) and 70.8% (BR) after 10 years, and 81.2% (SC) and 66.2% (BR) after 15 years. The difference between the two groups was significant.
Conclusion: The survival of the vital pulp in teeth restored with a single-unit CMC was significantly higher than those serving as an abutment of a fixed-fixed bridge. Maxillary anterior teeth used as bridge abutments had a higher rate of pulpal necrosis than any other tooth types.