Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gap-free smile equals better quality of life

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Parents spend hundreds of dollars at the dentist's office, ensuring their children grow healthy teeth. Now there's even more reason to do so, as new research suggests that the perfect smile leads to higher self-esteem.

The research, presented at The International Association of Dental Research in Seattle earlier this year, found a previously unknown link between missing teeth and a person's quality of life. The University of Manchester's School of Dentistry conducted the study, expected to be published next month in a dentistry journal.

"Our research suggests that oral health changes, such as tooth loss, can have a profound effect on a patient's quality of life," said lead researcher Dr. Rajesh Vijayanarayanan, clinical director and principal dental surgeon at EvoDental, a dental implant centre in Liverpool, England, as reported in The Daily Telegraph. "Patients find it difficult to come to terms with tooth loss, being less confident about themselves and more inhibited in daily activities."

Researchers looked at 150 men and women between the ages of 24 and 82 who were patients at EvoDental, where Dr. Vijayanarayanan works. All subjects had undergone dental implants for one or more missing teeth; 39 had lost all their teeth.

Before and after receiving dental implants, patients filled out Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP) questionnaires and scored themselves on oral health quality of life. Before the treatment, a low OHIP score indicating poor oral health quality of life was recorded with a mean average of 241 out of 343. Patients reported losing the ability to perform everyday activities due to feeling self-conscious and negative about their appearance.

After treatment, a mean OHIP score rose to 342 and patients reported a significant improvement in self-confidence and overall happiness.

The Canadian Dental Association also suggests that poor oral health affects people's physical, mental and social well-being, leading to a poor quality of life.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 3, 2013 C6

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