January 2009
Volume 5, Issue 1

From the Editor

Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD

Dear Readers,

This month, the Inside Dentistry cover feature addresses the relevance of dentures and prosthodontics at a time when dentistry is well into what some call “the implant era.” It’s a timely topic, considering the profession is facing a potentially swelling edentulous population in need of care. It’s ironic, since the oral healthcare professional has undertaken an abundance of efforts designed to prevent oral disease, as well as initiatives aimed at helping patients retain their natural teeth. Regardless, care for today’s maturing population will involve dentures and implants and perhaps a combination of both.

What We Need, What We Need to Know. Clearly, treatment of fully and partially edentulous patients will still require dentures of some form or another. Our profession as a whole will, therefore, need the skills and talents of specially educated prosthodontists. The nature of treating an edentulous mouth involves complex—but not incomprehensible—processes. As I have often alluded to when addressing other topics, it is through collaboration and interaction with our specialist colleagues that we can provide the most appropriate care to our patients. Simultaneously, we can also broaden our own knowledge of treatment planning for different types of cases.

Ensuring Quality—and Quality of Life—for Everyone. Collectively it is time to acknowledge a need to make even conventional denture therapies more accessible and affordable to those segments of the population who need them. Across the country, legislation is moving to the forefront of consideration that would make it possible for individuals other than dentists to provide dentures to patients. As the economy struggles, more people will be looking for a low-cost solution to their edentulous needs. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the profession of dentistry to look for efficient models that will enable the delivery of sound oral healthcare to our patients, not just the provision of dentures.

Ultimately, It’s All About People. The numbers—based on research—speak for themselves. People older than 55+ years represent the largest segment of the US population. As these people age, so too will their dentition. Some people will retain many of their teeth. Other people will lose their teeth. But they all will likely hold onto their desire to maintain a good quality of life. As dentists, we must join the conversation about dentures, implant-retained dentures, and care of edentulous people with a willingness to see these patients as the individuals that they are, not just as toothless masses. It is imperative that we do our part to ensure that this growing population of edentulous patients can do more than just cope with a substitute for no teeth, but instead enjoy comfortable, confident function of a stable prosthesis.

We hope you enjoy this issue and find that it lends some insight into the relevance of dentures at a time when more and more patients may be turning to implants as an option for restoring missing dentition. As always, your thoughts, opinions, and reactions are our motivations to continually enhance our clinical content and coverage of today’s topics of interest. Please send us your feedback to letters@insidedentistry.net. Thank you for reading and, most of all, thank you for your continued support.

With warm regards,

Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

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