How to Intervene in the Caries Process: Dentin Caries in Primary Teeth

Caries Res. 2020;54(4):306-323. doi: 10.1159/000508899. Epub 2020 Aug 27.


For an ORCA/EFCD consensus, this review systematically assessed available evidence regarding interventions performed and materials used to manage dentin carious lesions in primary teeth. A search for systematic reviews (SRs) and randomized clinical trials (RCTs) with a follow-up of at least 12 months after intervention was performed in PubMed, LILACS, BBO, and the Cochrane Library. The risk of bias tool from the Cochrane Collaboration and the PRISMA Statement were used for assessment of the included studies. From 101 screened articles, 2 SRs and 5 RCTs, which assessed the effectiveness of interventions in terms of pulp vitality and success of restoration, and 10 SRs and 1 RCT assessing the success of restorative materials were included. For treatments involving no carious tissue removal, the Hall technique showed lower treatment failure for approximal carious lesions compared to complete caries removal (CCR) and filling. For the treatment of deep carious lesions, techniques involving selective caries removal (SCR) showed a reduction in the incidence of pulp exposure. However, the benefit of SCR over CCR in terms of pulp symptoms or restoration success/failure was not confirmed. Regarding restorative materials, preformed metal crowns (PMCs) used to restore multisurface lesions showed the highest success rates compared to other restorative materials (amalgam, composite resin, glass ionomer cement, and compomer), and in the long term (12-48 months) these were also less likely to fail. There is limited evidence supporting the use of PMCs to restore carious lesions with single cavities. Among nonrestorative options, silver diammine fluoride was significantly more effective in arresting caries than other treatments for treating active carious lesions of different depths. Considerable heterogeneity and bias risk were observed in the included studies. Although heterogeneity observed among the studies was substantial, the trends were similar. In conclusion, less invasive caries approaches involving selective or no caries removal seem advantageous in comparison to CCR for patients presenting with vital, symptomless, carious dentin lesions in primary teeth. There is evidence in favor of PMCs for restoring multisurface carious lesions in primary molars.

Keywords: Dentin caries; Filling; Nonoperative caries management; Primary teeth; Selective caries removal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Caries Susceptibility*
  • Dental Caries* / prevention & control
  • Dentin
  • Glass Ionomer Cements
  • Humans
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Tooth, Deciduous


  • Glass Ionomer Cements