With age, postmenopausal women with osteoporosis are at greater risk of losing their teeth. But what treatment for tooth loss provides women with the highest degree of satisfaction in their work and social lives?
A new study by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers suggests dental implants may be the best route to take, according to Leena Palomo, associate professor of periodontics and corresponding author of "Dental Implant Supported Restorations Improve the Quality of Life in Osteoporotic Women."
Their findings were reported in the Journal of International Dentistry. The research is part of a series of studies analyzing dental outcomes for women with osteoporosis.
In one of the first studies to examine quality of life after treatment to replace missing teeth in osteoporotic women, the researchers surveyed 237 women about their satisfaction with replacement teeth and how it improved their lives at work and in social situations. The 23-question survey rated satisfaction with their work, health, emotional and sexual aspects of their lives.
Participants were from the Case/Cleveland Clinic Postmenopausal Wellness Collaboration, which is part of a database of health information about 900 women with osteoporosis.
Osteoporotic women with one or more adjacent teeth missing (excluding wisdom teeth or third molars) were chosen for the study. The women had restoration work done that included implants (64 women), fixed partial denture, which is a false tooth cemented to crowns of two teeth (60), a removal denture, better known as false teeth (47), or had no restoration work done (66).
Women with dental implants reported a higher overall satisfaction with their lives, said Christine DeBaz, a third-year Case Western Reserve dental student. She was lead researcher on the project and personally interviewed each participant.
Fixed dentures scored next highest in satisfaction, followed by false teeth and, finally, women with no restoration work.
Women with dental implants also reported the highest satisfaction in emotional and sexual areas, while those without restorations scored the lowest in those two areas.
As health professions move to a patient-centered form of delivering dental service, understanding the patient's outcomes for satisfaction of the treatment's esthetics is as important as chewing function, DeBaz said.
"We need hard data to drive our decision-making about which is best for the patient," Palomo said.
Other Case Western Reserve contributors to the study include Lisa Lang, assistant dean of Clinical Education and associate professor and chair of the Department of Comprehensive Care, and Jenna Hahn, a high school research assistant from the Department of Periodontics.