Purpose: To assess the mechanical performance and enamel-crack propensity of large MOD composite-resin restorations on maxillary molars with severely undermined cusps.
Keywords: short-fiber reinforced composite, composite resin, CAD/CAM, fatigue resistance, crack propensity, undermined cusps, shrinkage stress
Materials and Methods: Thirty-six extracted maxillary third molars (n = 12) received a standardized slot-type MOD preparation (5-mm depth by 5-mm bucco-palatal width) with severe undercuts, leaving unsupported buccal and lingual enamel cusps. A short-fiber reinforced composite resin base (SFRC, everX Flow, GC) was used for both the experimental direct approach and semi-direct CAD/CAM inlays (Cerasmart 270, GC). In the control group using a direct approach, Gradia Direct (GC) composite resin was used alone without SFRC. Optibond FL (Kerr) adhesive was used in all three groups (also for the immediate dentin sealing of inlays). Artificial masticatory forces were simulated under water using closed-loop servo-hydraulics (MTS Acumen 3). Each specimen was mounted at a 30-degree angle and positioned so that a cylindrical antagonistic cusp (actuator) contacted the internal palatal cusp slope of the restoration. Cyclic loading was applied at a frequency of 5 Hz, starting with a load of 200 N, increasing by 100 N every 2000 cycles. Samples were loaded until fracture and the number of endured cycles and failure modes of each specimen was recorded. Each sample was also evaluated for crack propensity during the experiment and for final failure mode (reparable failures above the CEJ [cementoenamel junction] vs irreparable failures below the CEJ).
Results: Shrinkage-induced cracks (>3 mm) were found in most specimens for both direct groups (66% to 83%) but not with inlays. The survival of inlays with a SFRC base was superior to that of the direct SFRC restorations and Gradia Direct (control) restorations (Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and post-hoc log-rank test p < 0.000). The direct control group without SFRC exhibited not only the poorest survival but also 100% catastrophic failure (vs 42% and 17% for SFRC direct and SFRC inlays, respectively).
Conclusion: Large MOD restorations with severely undermined cusps were most favorably restored with an SFRC base and a CAD/CAM inlay, yielding the highest survival rate, more reparable failures and absence of shrinkage-induced cracks. When a low-cost restoration must be chosen, the SFRC base will significantly improve the performance and failure mode of directly layered restorations.