About 15 percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 are missing all of their teeth on either the upper or lower jaw. For patients like these, how do complete dentures affect their overall quality of life?
In 2011, a major earthquake shook Japan. There was a study done at the time that was performed to discuss whether dental care should be included in major-disaster relief efforts. When they polled the individuals who had lost their partial or complete dentures in the disaster. The top three risks they gave in losing their dentures were all related to overall quality of life. Those three risks were:
- Problems with smiling, laughing and showing teeth without embarrassment.
- Problems enjoying the company of other people such as family, friends or neighbors.
- Difficulty speaking clearly.
You’ll notice that the victims weren’t as focused on functional risks. All of the top negative impacts of losing their dentures were psychological. The idea of not being able to smile and laugh without being embarrassed was worse than the risk of the physical ailments that come with having no teeth.
Studies like these give dentists like me further proof of what we are treating when we are practicing dentistry. More than anything else, it is the quality of our patients’ lives. Ultimately, in every case of restorative dentistry, we are giving them back their confidence, their happiness, and their optimum quality of life. That being said, if a dentist doesn’t have the technology and skill set necessary to restore someone’s smile in the best way possible, they won’t have the ability to focus on this larger goal.
After all the time and energy I’ve put into becoming educated, honing my skills and staying up-to-date with technology, a patient’s happiness the best reward I could ask for.