closeup of older woman's mouth during dental care procedure

A first set of dentures is a necessary tool for those with tooth loss, but may also be a sign that a patient is at risk for reduced nutritional status, a new study finds.

Investigators from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry looked at more than 10,000 dental and health records from patients in Indiana. They compared results from blood counts, basic metabolic profiles and lipid and thyroid panel tests, among others, both before patients received their dentures and two years after.

Participants with dentures experienced a decline in nutrition biomarkers used to establish malnutrition diagnoses. There was no significant nutritional decline in people who didn’t wear dentures, the researchers reported. 

Despite the decline, the patients’ nutrition biomarker levels were still within normal range. But the researchers are concerned that these levels may continue to fall beyond the study’s two-year time frame. Clinicians should be aware of these risks and be ready to offer advice or a referral to nutrition counseling to patients who wear dentures, said co-author Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, Ph.D.

“Dentures are a significant change for a person. They do not provide the same chewing efficiency, which may alter eating habits,” she said. “These patients need support during the transition and possible continued monitoring.” 

Full findings were published in the Journal of Prosthodontics.

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