The aim was to measure variations in the threshold for operative treatment of occlusal caries in permanent teeth and the use of dental materials, compared with results from a similar study conducted in Norway in 1995. In 2009, a precoded questionnaire was sent electronically to 3,654 dentists with E-mail addresses in the member register of the Norwegian Dental Association. The questions were related to caries, treatment strategies and choice of dental materials. Replies were obtained from 61.3% respondents after two reminders. Restorative treatment of occlusal lesions confined to enamel was proposed by 12% of the dentists, compared with 18% in 1995 (p < 0.01). Older dentists more often than younger dentists would operatively treat enamel lesions (p < 0.01). Most dentists preferred to drill only the carious part of the fissure rather than the whole fissure both in 2009 (78.8%) and 1995 (68.3%; p < 0.01). In 2009, 91.9% preferred composite as the restorative material of choice, compared to only 39.1% in 1995. Logistic regression analyses identified higher age of the dentist as the only variable significantly associated with higher risk of restoring occlusal enamel lesions operatively. The authors conclude that especially young dentists appear to be more reluctant to remove tooth substance in 2009 compared with 1995. Composite is the dominating material of choice in 2009 and seems to have substituted the use of most other filling materials in occlusal restorations in permanent teeth.