A study conducted by the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University School of Dentistry discovered that patients with dentures showed an increase in certain nutritional markers over a period of two years.

The study, published recently in Journal of Prosthodontics connected dental records to the lab results for nutritional markers. Researchers believe it’s the first study to have done this.

“Dentures can be a major change for an individual. They don’t provide the same level of chewing effectiveness that can change the way you eat,” said senior author Dr. Thankam Thyvalikakath, director of the Regenstrief and IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics program in a press release.

“Dentists should keep this in mind, and provide recommendations or nutritional counseling. Patients who suffer from this need assistance through the transition period and ongoing observation,” she added.


WHAT IS THE REASON FOR IT?

Loss of teeth, commonly referred to as edentulism can impact general health, and increase the risk of malnutrition.

Researchers employed electronic health record data as well as electronic dental record information of more than 10,000 people in order to attempt and track the nutritional status of denture wearers.

They also assessed their nutritional profile of the denture and nondenture-wearing patients by with the help of biomarkers from laboratory studies.

“To the extent we know the results of laboratory studies of nutritional biomarkers found in urine and serum samples found within EHR EHR and linking to EDR data haven’t been published before,” wrote researchers.

The team of researchers found in the blood that levels of serum albumin, calcium, and total protein levels decreased over the period of two years following the patients’ receiving dentures compared to patients who did not have dentures.

“Serum albumin, which is a major blood protein, is a sign of nutrition assessment in healthy people and low levels can indicate bad health,” noted the researchers. “Reduction of serum calcium may be due to a lower calcium intake from denture wearers compared to other,” they added.

Protein is a biomarker to determine the nutritional state.

“Older people with a reduced intake of protein may be at risk of developing sarcopenia, which could affect physical activity and result in lower quality of life” researchers from the study team.

While the levels were within normal range, the researchers warned they may decrease as time goes by.

“Future studies should examine the importance of screening patients who have received denture prosthesis (irrespective of the kind of prosthesis they get) for the possibility of malnutrition by with simple tools like the survey,” they wrote.

They also noted some limitations to the study, such as possible records inconsistencies as well as the inclusion of patient information from one university.

The next step in the research field is to examine other factors that could influence nutrition, including insurance status and dental clinic specifics. Researchers have also suggested that multisite studies could be beneficial.

“In addition, it’s essential that future research examine the benefits of nutritional diet advice for patients who have received dental replacements such as dentures as implant replacements,” said researchers.

THE BIGGER TREND

Dental records on electronic devices are an excellent source of information-driven research, especially given the connection with oral health to various other conditions. In the year 2018, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine announced the creation of the Center for Precision Dental Medicine that aims at improving understanding of the relation between overall health and dental.

The College was one of the first dental academic institutions to integrate the medical and dental patient files within Epic EHR, according to officials.

Then, a few months later Epic formed the first support for dental care company that allowed data exchange to provide better treatment of patients.


ON THE Record

“With the growing awareness of integrating medical and dental care and EDR-EHR information, matched EDR-EHR can be a valuable data source for studying the effects of dental health and treatments on general health and in turn, on overall health,” said researchers in the Journal of Prosthodontics study.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.

Twitter: @kjercich

Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is an HIMSS media publication.