Research examines link between tooth wear management and quality of life

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Research examines link between tooth wear management and quality of life

A recent study has examined how restorative management of tooth wear can impact a patient’s oral health-related quality of life. (Image: Stas Walenga /Shutterstock)

LONDON, UK/NIJMEGEN, Netherlands: Patients with more severe forms of tooth wear may require restorative rehabilitation. However, determining when to initiate restorative intervention may be challenging. In a recent study on management of tooth wear, researchers have shed light on its assessment and treatment and the effect of severe tooth wear on a patient’s overall quality of life and psychosocial well-being.

“A proportion of patients with tooth wear will require restorative rehabilitation, especially if their tooth wear is more severe and has a negative impact on their aesthetics or function or causes symptoms of pain or discomfort. However, planning and undertaking restorative treatment for tooth wear are not only technically highly demanding but also time-consuming and costly,” lead author Dr Shamir B. Mehta, a senior clinical teacher at King’s College London and a visiting professor in the Department of Dentistry at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, told Dental Tribune International (DTI).

Dr Mehta’s interest in tooth wear began in the late 1990s after seeing an increasing number of patients presenting with the condition in the primary care setting. Now, his work supports the need for increased awareness of tooth wear among patients and dental professionals.

Lead author Dr Shamir B. Mehta’s interest in tooth wear spans over two decades. (Image: Shamir B. Mehta)

“Sometimes patients with severely compromised smiles may feel embarrassed or apprehensive, for example. Given the psychosocial impact of tooth wear, it would be appropriate for dental professionals to diagnose tooth wear and to engage in appropriate discussions with their patients regarding its management. The appearance of the smile is a key determinant of the attractiveness of a face, and this, in turn, may have an impact on wider aspects such as social acceptability, occupational prospects, interpersonal relationships and self-confidence,” he told DTI.

Tooth wear is often a gradual process that increases in severity with age, which is why some people do not seek restorative treatment unless they are made aware that it can be managed and of the options, which may include prevention and monitoring or restoration with composites or crowns. “In my experience, patients will often not raise their concerns unless they are prompted, as they often accept their wear to be part of the natural ageing process,” Dr Mehta noted.

According to Dr Mehta, severe tooth wear can threaten well-being, and effective restorative treatment could help improve patients’ quality of life. Since choosing the appropriate time to commence restorative rehabilitation can be challenging for both dentist and patient, the researchers suggested that, instead of solely focusing on the clinical outcomes of restorative care, clinicians should also discuss the improvements that patients can realistically expect from treatment, including in their oral health-related quality of life.

“Clinical findings and the impact of the tooth wear on the patient’s quality of life will be factors that may help to decide the optimal timing for restorative intervention,” Dr Mehta concluded.

The study, titled “Managing tooth wear with respect to quality of life: An evidence-based decision on when to intervene”, was published online on 24 March 2023 in the British Dental Journal.

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