Different kinds of interactions between the restorative material and mineralized dental tissues result in secondary caries around dental composites. Of these, the mechanical interactions have to be carefully investigated. Due to the elastic mismatch between dental tissues and the composite restoration, complex stresses and strains develop at their interface. This complex mechanical environment disturbs the demineralization-remineralization equilibrium of dental hard tissues. The fluid flow both over and within enamel and dentin, associated with their complex ultrastructure and mechanical behavior, is a key factor. It is known that external mechanical loading can indirectly promote the dissolution of enamel and dentin through a pumping action of cariogenic fluids in and out of microgaps at the interface between mineralized tissues and composite. Mechanical loading can also directly influence the physicochemical behavior of dental hard tissues by inducing complex strain and stress fields on the crystal scale. It is important to consider both the direct and indirect paths by which mechanical loading can influence the apatite dissolution kinetics. Therefore, a systematic approach should be used to investigate the mechanism of secondary caries formation considering the tooth-composite interface as a unique complex in which each element has an influence on the other.
Keywords: secondary caries, dental composites, enamel, dentin, interface