Not everyone who is missing teeth needs dentures, according to a quality of life study of more than 2,700 people.
According to the research, there are two key factors that affect a person's quality of life from a dental standpoint: 1) How many teeth the person has, and 2) the types of those teeth.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Haiping Tan, stated, "It's about getting the right balance of biting and cutting teeth at the front of the mouth with enough of the chewing teeth at the back - that can make a real difference to people's dental function." Dr. Tan is a faculty member at the University of Adelaide's School of Dentistry in Australia, where the study was conducted.
Based on this information, it was estimated that more than 400,000 Australians who would currently be considered for dentures may not actually need them. Extrapolating that to the U.S. would suggest that more than 5 million Americans may similarly not need dentures.
The study co-author, Professor Marco Peres, suggests that the resources currently allocated to dentures could be used elsewhere. Possible areas of reallocation include the prevention of further tooth loss, diagnostic services and follow up for the patient.
The study was published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.