According to new research from the Australian Research Center for Population Oral Health and the University of Adelaide in Australia, people missing a few teeth may not have to get replacement teeth in order to ensure a high quality of life.
Researchers collected data from over 2,700 Australians for the study, analyzing the oral health of participants as well as each individual’s overall health. The study found that individuals missing teeth are likely to develop “shortened dental arches,” which allows for the maximum use of remaining teeth.
According to the Digital Journal, the research study is due to be published in the Journal Community Dentistry and Epidemiology, and the research team believes that it will have a significant impact on Australia’s dental industry, as well as the global dental community.
Contradictory to this finding, dental professionals have argued for many years that a person’s overall health will necessarily decline if he/she is missing any teeth, causing many people to splurge on dental implants, dentures, and other expensive preventative dental procedures.
Canadians, for example, spend about $12 billion on dental procedures each year, and the country’s dental implant industry is valued at an estimated $80 billion currently. In the U.S., the cost of dental care is substantially higher — Americans paid approximately $111 billion in 2012 for dental care, according to the American Dental Association.
If more research can corroborate the findings of the University of Adelaide, it’s very possible that dental costs could drop substantially in the future.
Researchers from the University state that an individual’s overall quality of life still largely depends on dental health despite these findings; the number of missing teeth and the health and placement of remaining teeth still play a large role in determining whether an individual needs to receive replacement teeth in order to stay healthy.
According to these findings, good dental health relies on a balance between front teeth that bite/cut and back teeth that chew; as long as the proper balance is kept (and remaining teeth are well cared for), an individual can retain the same quality of life as what he/she would have with a full set of teeth.