The presentation of patients with dental restorations that exhibit minor defects is one of the commonest clinical situations in the practice of general dentistry. The repair of such restorations, rather than replacement, is increasingly considered to be a viable alternative to replacement of the defective restoration. This paper considers factors influencing the repair of direct restorations, including indications and details of relevant techniques, based on the best available knowledge and understanding of this important aspect of minimal intervention dentistry. Practitioners who do not consider repair before deciding to replace restorations that present with limited defects are encouraged to consider including repair in the treatment options in such situations. The effective repair of direct restorations can greatly influence the rate of descent down the "restorative death spiral".