OBJECTIVE: To conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis comparing two different tooth replacement strategies for partially dentate older patients, namely partial removable dental prostheses (RDP) and functionally orientated treatment based on the shortened dental arch concept (SDA).
METHODS: Ninety-two partially dentate older patients completed a randomized controlled clinical trial. Patients were randomly allocated to two treatment groups: the RDP group and the SDA group. Treatment effect was measured using impact on oral health-related quality of life (OHrQOL), and the costs involved in providing and maintaining care were recorded for all patients. Patients were followed for 12 months after treatment intervention. All treatment was provided by a single operator.
RESULTS: The total cost of achieving the minimally important clinical difference (MID) in OHrQOL for an average patient in the RDP group was €464.64. For the SDA group, the cost of achieving the MID for an average patient was €252.00. The cost-effectiveness ratio was therefore 1:1.84 in favour of SDA treatment.
CONCLUSION: With an increasingly ageing population, many patients will continue to benefit from removable prostheses to replace their missing natural teeth. From a purely economic standpoint, the results from this analysis suggest that the treatment of partially dentate older adults should be focused on functionally orientated treatment because it is simply more cost-effective.