Objectives: To assess the level of acceptance and discomfort experienced by secondary school students when undergoing an atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) restoration. Subjects and Methods: Ninety secondary school students, aged 14 and 15 years, were included in the study. The ART restorations were prepared in 90 cavities and restored using an encapsulated high-viscosity glass ionomer. The depth of the cavities was judged from radiographs and clinically into outer, middle and inner third of dentine. Using a graded periodontal probe, cavity size was measured, into approximately half the width of the mesiodistal and buccolingual/palatal distance of the occlusal surface. The students were asked about the level of sensation experienced during cavity preparation immediately after completion of restoration. χ2-Test was used to test the effect of cavity depth and size on sensitivity from the teeth. Results: Of the 90 students, 6 (6.6%) and 26 (29.2%) experienced pain and discomfort, respectively, during cavity preparation, more often in large than in small cavities (p = 0.003) and in cavities extending into the inner third than in the middle and outer third of dentine (p < 0.0001). Only 1 student reported postoperative sensitivity. Conclusions: The ART approach to treat dental cavities was well accepted by this group of secondary school students. Only a few reported pain during cavity instrumentation, and this was more prevalent in large cavities and in cavities with the floor close to the pulp.

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