Objectives: The Hall Technique (HT), Non-Restorative Cavity Control (NRCC) and conventional carious tissue removal and restoration (CR) are strategies for managing cavitated caries lesions in primary molars. A randomized controlled three-arm parallel group trial in a university clinic in Germany was used to measure the cost-effectiveness of these strategies.
Methods: 142 children (HT: 40; NRCC: 44; CR: 58) were followed over a mean 2.5 years. A German healthcare perspective was chosen. The primary outcome was estimated molar survival; secondary outcomes were not needing extraction, not having pain or needing endodontic treatment/extraction, or not needing any re-intervention at all. Initial, maintenance and endodontic/restorative/extraction re-treatment costs were derived from fee items of the statutory insurance. Cumulative cost-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness acceptability were estimated from bootstrapped samples.
Results: HT molars survived longer (estimated mean; 95% CI: 29.7; 26.6–30.5 months) than NRCC (25.3; 21.2–28.7 months) and CR molars (24.1; 22.0–26.2 months). HT was also less costly (66; 62–71 Euro) than NRCC (296; 274–318 Euro) and CR (83; 73–92 Euro). HT was more cost-effective than NRCC and CR in >96% of samples, and had acceptable cost-effectiveness regardless of a payer's willingness-to-pay. This superior cost-effectiveness was confirmed for secondary health outcomes. Cost-advantages were even more pronounced when costs were calculated per year of tooth retention (mean annual costs were HT: 29, NRCC: 154, CR: 61 Euro).
Conclusions: HT was more cost-effective than CR or NRCC for managing cavitated caries lesions in primary molars, yielding better dental health outcomes at lower costs. Clinical significance: If choosing between these three strategies for managing cavitated caries lesions in primary molars, dentists should prefer HT over NRCC or CR. This would also save costs for the healthcare payer.
- Health economics
- Pediatric dentistry
- Primary teeth
- Restorative dentistry