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Restorative Dentistry

Digitally manufactured partial coverage restorations: is it time to down the impression trays or still a work in progress?


Data sources

Pubmed, EMBASE, Scopus, Web of Science and Cochrane library databases were used as the data sources for this systematic review. Manual search of the reference lists of the included studies was also conducted.

Study selection

The aim of the systematic review was to compare a fully digital workflow to a fully conventional workflow in the fabrication of partial coverage restorations. Partial coverage restorations were defined as inlays, onlays, overlays and endocrowns. Four independent calibrated reviewers screened studies that fulfilled a predefined PICOS framework. Population was specified as an abutment tooth requiring a partial coverage restoration. The intervention was a fully digital workflow compared to a fully conventional workflow. Outcomes were accuracy, marginal and internal fit, success, survival, complication rates and patient-reported outcomes. Study design included both clinical and in vitro studies.

Data extraction and synthesis

A total of 23 articles were included in qualitative synthesis ranging from 2007 to 2021. Twenty-one of these were in vitro studies. Two authors independently reviewed the included articles, performed data extraction, and evaluated the risk of bias via an adapted Checklist for Reporting In Vitro studies (CRIS) for in vitro studies and Reporting Randomised Clinical studies (RoB2) for clinical studies.


Seventeen studies assessed the marginal and internal fit of onlay and inlay restorations, eight of which found that a conventional workflow demonstrated improved fit compared to digital, whilst the remaining nine studies found the contrary. Differing methods were utilised across the studies to assess fit, including: the silicone replica method, microcomputed tomography, microscopy and software-based measurements. Similar fracture strengths were reported between both conventional and digital workflows in three studies. One clinical study assessed survival rates of both pressed and CAD/CAM ceramic restorations and found the survival outcomes to be similar after seven years. No studies were found that investigated patient-reported outcomes or endocrowns.


No consensus was reached as to whether the digital or conventional workflow is better.

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Correspondence to Amandeep Singh Sarkaria.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Sarkaria, A.S., Duke, A. Digitally manufactured partial coverage restorations: is it time to down the impression trays or still a work in progress?. Evid Based Dent 25, 35–36 (2024).

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