The findings, led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, showed that within two years of the dental procedure, fillings failed more often in patients who drank alcohol, while the overall filling failure rate was higher in men who smoked.
‘By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay, but drinking alcohol or smoking may lead to increased incidences of failure in dental fillings.’
Furthermore, people with a difference in the gene for matrix metalloproteinase (MMP2) -- an enzyme found in teeth -- were at increased risk of filling failure.
This could be because MMP2 might be able to degrade the bond between the filling and the tooth surface, potentially leading to failure, the researchers said.
The results, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, suggest that genetic analysis might help dentists to personalise treatments for their patients, which could lead to improved outcomes.
"A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward," said Alexandre Vieira, a researcher from the varsity.
"In the future, genetic information may be used to personalise dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes," Vieira added.
For the study, the team from America and Brazil analysed dental records of 807 patients.
Fillings can fail for a variety of reasons, including re-emergence of the initial tooth decay or the filling becoming detached.
The researchers also examined if newer composite resin fillings are as durable as traditional amalgam fillings, which have been in use for more than 150 years but which contain mercury, a toxic metal.
The researchers found that overall, there were no major differences between patients receiving amalgam or composite fillings in terms of filling failure rates.