Prosthodontists to Patients: Beat the Odds of Do-It-Again Dentistry for World Oral Health Day

The secret is out: Restored teeth require even more care and maintenance than natural teeth


Prosthodontists recommend patients celebrate World Oral Health Day on March 20 by beating the odds of do-it-again dentistry by adopting six tips to care for their restored teeth. The time is now, and here’s why.

The National Institutes of Health estimate that 158 million people worldwide have no teeth and 120 million Americans are missing one or more teeth according to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) NHANES data.

Many of these individuals are treated with restorations including crowns, bridges or veneers supported by natural tooth structure or by implant-supported restorations. The best way to care for and maintain these dental restorations, however, has remained unclear until now.

The American College of Prosthodontists (ACP) is bringing some clarity to the situation with prosthodontists presenting new recommendations from leaders across oral health – prosthodontists, general dentists, and dental hygienists during the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Annual Meeting on March 17 in Los Angeles and continuing with public education in honour of World Health Day on March 20.

The first Clinical Practice Guidelines for Patients with Dental Restorations, featured in the peer-reviewed Journal of Prosthodontics, aim to keep restored teeth healthy and strong through lifelong recall and maintenance.

The new guidelines are actually simpler than one might think, recommending that patients with restorations visit their dentist at least every six months for clinical examinations to clean, adjust, repair and/or replace their restorations. The most significant detail is that they urge practitioners to follow a personalised regimen for professional maintenance and to educate patients on how best to care for restorations at home.

“If you don’t take care of your restored teeth, you are at risk of losing them and your investment,” said board-certified prosthodontist Lily T. Garcia, DDS, MS, FACP, who is vice chair of the ACP Education Foundation.

“In fact, a recent 17-year retrospective study has shown that the risk of dental implant failure rate is 90 per cent less in patients who actively participate in a maintenance programme as compared to patients who do not,” points out board-certified prosthodontist Donald A. Curtis, DMD, FACP, of UCSF School of Dentistry, who sees patients in his private practice in Berkeley, CA, and served as senior investigator. “The science is staggering.”

Over 14 months, Dr. Curtis put the science through rigorous vetting and testing along with lead researcher, board-certified prosthodontist Avinash S. Bidra, BDS, MS, FACP, of the UConn School of Dental Medicine.

These baseline clinical practice guidelines on recall and maintenance now serve as a roadmap to keep restored teeth, and surrounding tissue (gums, bone) healthy and your crowns, bridges and veneers looking as natural and beautiful throughout the years.

To maintain your teeth restorations or implant restorations at home, Prosthodontist Dr. Avinash Bidra summed up the guidelines to UConn Today in six simple steps:

  1. Obtain a dental examination and cleaning at least every six months.
  2. Follow your dentist’s tailored at-home maintenance recommendations.
  3. Brush your teeth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste at least twice a day.
  4. Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  5. Use a mouthwash recommended by your dentist.
  6. Wear a night guard regularly if recommended by your dentist to protect your restorations.

He adds two additional tips that are important:

  1. Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
  2. Watch your diet closely and avoid a high-sugar diet.

The new guidelines were developed from an ACP-led scientific panel of experts appointed by the American College of Prosthodontists, American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Hygienists Association who all critically evaluated and debated findings from two comprehensive systematic reviews covering 10 to 15 years of research literature.

The new guidelines couldn’t have come at a better time according to prosthodontist and ACP President, Carl Driscoll, DMD, FACP. “As people live longer, so do their dental restorations,” said Dr. Driscoll. “No patient wants to go through the treatment, expense and process getting a ‘new’ tooth again due to a lack of regular professional and at-home maintenance.”

Until now, there have been no clear, evidence-based guidelines in place for dental professionals to help patients who have these types of restorations.

The project was funded in part by an unrestricted educational grant to the ACP Education Foundation from the Colgate-Palmolive Company.