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Removable partial dentures may improve mortality among partially edentulous adults

New research has highlighted the effectiveness of removable partial dentures in improving the long-term survival rates of patients. However, further research is needed to validate the findings. (Image: Sergii Kuchugurnyi/Shutterstock)

LEEDS, UK: In a recent study, researchers have examined whether the use of removable partial dentures has an impact on the long-term survival outcomes of partially edentulous adults. They reported that using removable partial dentures may indeed have long-term benefits in reducing mortality among adults with a non-functional dentition but cautioned that further research is needed to validate the findings.

The researchers used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and linked it to publicly viewable mortality files for the period up to 2019. For the purpose of the study, they included as participants 1,246 partially edentulous adults with fewer than 20 teeth whose use of removable partial dentures and dentition status had been determined by clinical examination.

The findings showed that removable partial denture wearers experienced a 26% increase in survival time. Additionally, the researchers observed that for every 7.5 individuals treated with removable partial dentures, one death would be prevented after ten years of treatment.

Discussing the motivation behind the study, lead author Dr Nasir Zeeshan Bashir, a researcher at the University of Leeds in the UK, told Dental Tribune International: “Although I am a dentist, I also retrained in mathematics and statistics and am very interested in any research where I can utilise my statistical inference skills. I think dentistry has a real lack of research on long-term outcomes, so being able to assess the long-term effect of dentures while using robust statistical methodology was ideal. My colleague Dr Eduardo Bernabé is an epidemiologist who has done previous research in this field, and this research question followed up well on his previous work.”

Commenting on the findings, he added: “Rehabilitation of patients with non-functional dentition could have a substantial impact on these patients, beyond just restoring their dentition.” When asked how exactly removable partial dentures could improve mortality among partially edentulous adults, Dr Bashir explained that the study did not specifically assess why dentures have this effect. However, he noted that a few hypotheses were put forward in the discussion section of the study.

“Firstly, eating a well-balanced diet is difficult when you are lacking many teeth, as fibrous foods like vegetables can be tough to chew. By restoring the dentition, it has been shown that masticatory efficiency increases and, therefore, it may be that these patients with dentures have an improved diet. Secondly, it could be that those patients who wear and use their dentures regularly are well motivated in other aspects of their general health. They might also be more self-confident and lead a less sedentary lifestyle,” he commented.

Although the findings are promising, Dr Bashir cautioned that the results should first be validated in a randomised trial in order to ratify the conclusions about the effectiveness of removable partial dentures.

The study, titled “Removable partial dentures and mortality among partially edentulous adults”, was published online in the November 2022 issue of the Journal of Dentistry.

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