Background: Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) and the Hall Technique (HT) are both minimally invasive, non-aerosol generating procedures (non-AGPs). They seem to have never been directly compared, nor has the HT been studied in a non-clinical setting. This study compared the HT and ART restorations placed in a school setting after 36 months.
Methods: Children (5-10 yo) who had a primary molar with an occluso-proximal carious lesion were allocated to the ART or HT arms. Primary outcome: restoration survival over 36-months (using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, log rank test, and Cox regression). Secondary outcomes: 1) occlusal vertical dimension (OVD) (1, 2, 3, 4 weeks) and 2) child self-reported discomfort; 3) treatment acceptability (immediately following interventions); 4) Child Oral Health Related Quality of Life (OHRQoL), before treatment and after 6 months and 5) a post-hoc analysis of time to tooth exfoliation (1, 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36 months).
Results: One-hundred and thirty-one children (ART=65; HT=66) were included (mean age=8.1±1.2). At 36 months, 112 (85.5%) children were followed-up. Primary outcome: restoration survival rates ART=32.7% (SE=0.08; 95%CI=0.17-0.47); HT=93.4% (0.05; 0.72-0.99), p<0.001; Secondary outcomes: 1) OVD returned to pre-treatment state within 4 weeks; 2) treatment discomfort was higher for the HT (p=0.018); 3) over 70% of children and parents showed a high acceptability for treatments, with crown aesthetics being a concern for around 23% of parents; 4) Child OHRQoL improved after six months; and 5) teeth treated with the HT exfoliated earlier than those in the ART group (p=0.007).
Conclusions: Both ART and the HT were acceptable to child participants and their parents and all parents thought both restorations protected their child’s tooth. However, the crown appearance concerned almost a quarter of parents in the HT arm. Children experienced less discomfort in the ART group. Although both treatments can be performed in a non-clinical setting and have the advantage of being non-aerosol generating procedures (non-AGPs), the HT had almost three times higher survival rates (93.4%) for restoring primary molar occluso-proximal cavities compared to ART (32.7%).