: The evidence stemming from trials on restorative materials is shaped not only by trial findings, but also trial design and validity. We aimed to evaluate both aspects in randomized controlled dental restorative trials published from 2005–2015. Methods
: Using systematic review methodology, we retrieved trials comparing restorative or adhesive dental materials. Two authors independently assessed design, risk of bias, registration status, and findings of trials. Descriptive and regression analyses were performed. Results
: 114 studies on 15,321 restorations placed mainly in permanent teeth of 5232 patients were included. Per trial, the median number of patients was 37 (25th/75th percentiles: 30/51). Follow-up was 24 (20/48) months. Seventeen percent of trials reported on sample size calculations, 2% had been registered. Most trials (90%) used US Public Health Service (USPHS) criteria, and had a high risk of bias. More recent trials were more likely to have been registered, to have reported on sample size calculations, to be of low risk of bias, and to use other than USPHS-criteria. Twenty-three percent of trials yielded significant differences between groups. The likelihood of such differences was significantly increased in older studies, studies with potential reporting bias, published in journals with high impact factor (>2), longer follow-up periods, and not using USPHS-criteria. Conclusions
: The majority of dental restorative trials published from 2005–2015 had limited validity. Risk of bias decreased in more recent trials. Future trials should aim for high validity, be registered, and use defined and appropriate sample sizes, follow-up periods, and outcome measures.
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