Objective: To investigate the impact of tooth replacement on the nutritional status of partially dentate older patients, and, to compare two different tooth replacement strategies; conventional treatment using removable partial dentures and functionally orientated treatment based on the shortened dental arch.
Background: Amongst older patients, diet plays a key role in disease prevention, as poor diets have been linked to numerous illnesses. Poor oral health and loss of teeth can have very significant negative effects on dietary intake and nutritional status for elderly patients. There is evidence that good oral health generally, has positive effects on the nutritional intake of older adults.
Materials and methods: A randomised, controlled clinical trial was designed to investigate the impact of tooth replacement on the nutritional status of partially dentate elders. Forty-four patients aged over 65 years completed the trial, with 21 allocated to conventional treatment and 23 allocated to functionally orientated treatment. Nutritional status was accessed at baseline and after treatment using the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) and a range of haematological markers.
Results: At baseline, relationships were observed between the number of occluding tooth contacts and some measures of nutritional status. As the number of contacts increased, MNA scores (R = 0.16), in addition to vitamin B12 (R = 0.21), serum folate (R = 0.32) and total lymphocyte count (R = 0.35), also increased. After treatment intervention, the only measure of nutritional status that showed a statistically significant improvement for both treatment groups was MNA score (p = 0.03). No significant between group differences were observed from analysis of the haematological data.
Conclusion: In this study, prosthodontic rehabilitation with both conventional treatment and functionally orientated treatment resulted in an improvement in MNA score. Haematological markers did not illustrate a clear picture of improvement in nutritional status for either treatment group.