One of the main treatments in dental practice is the exchange of restorations due to secondary or residual caries. Thereby, only restorations indeed infected with secondary or residual caries should be renewed. The aim of the study was to check the validity of different criteria for the replacement of fillings. Three hundred seventeen replacements of dental restorations were evaluated retrospectively by using an examination form. Different clinical parameters were correlated with the finding of caries after removal of the old restoration. Clinical findings were differentiated between caries soft to probing, caries only stainable with caries detector and caries-free cavities. Sixty-seven percent of the cavities showed caries that could be probed, 16.1% were just stainable with caries detector and 17% were caries-free. In general, results of previous replacements of fillings were a valid criterion. Other indicators for caries-free cavities were properly placed fillings with a correctly reconstructed morphology, fillings without marginal defects, a low age of the filling and a positive impression of the patients' general hygiene. Indicators for cavities with secondary caries were marginal gaps, pain within the respective section of the jaw, a high number of filled surfaces and a bad impression of the general hygiene. Systematic diagnostic criteria should be adopted in decision making on replacement of fillings in order to avoid new restorations of caries-free cavities.