'It's like being in a tunnel': Understanding the patient journey from tooth loss to life with removable dentures

Barry John Gibson, Sarah R Baker, Tom Broomhead, Bilal El-Dhuwaib, Nicolas Martin, Gerry McKenna, Anousheh Alavi

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INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to conceptualise the key stages of the patient journey in the provision of a new denture and examine the factors leading to successful patient-related outcomes.

METHODS: Two partially dentate patient samples were included: (i) Denture wearers - patients who had a denture fitted within the previous five years and (ii) New dentures - patients receiving treatment for a new or replacement denture. The methods involved direct targeted participant observations of the denture fitting process, debriefing interviews and a follow-up focus group exploring the patient journey. Data were analysed through the use of phenomenology and grounded theory.

RESULTS: Interviews were completed with twenty participants of the denture-wearing sample (11 males and nine females, age range 22 to 86 years). Thirteen participants were included in the treatment journey sample in two primary care settings (six males and seven females, age range 55 to 101 years). Tooth loss and recovery was described as being in an 'emotional tunnel' resulting from 'bodyphonic processes' associated with tooth loss. 'Bodyphonia' subsequently became the context for 'taking control' and 'managing disclosure' when living with a removable denture. Different courses through this process can be readily observed, moderated by different variables (i.e., previous experience, working knowledge, a good fit, the treatment alliance, negotiated compromises and bounded responsibility).

CONCLUSIONS: An'integrating framework' that seeks to describe the patient journey from the experience of tooth loss to recovery with a denture is proposed. This framework could be used to aid development of a clinical pathway to guide treatment options.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: This paper conceptualises the patient journey. It stresses the importance of understanding the stages patients go through and highlights that for the dental team, the try-in stage is perhaps the best stage to give information about the denture and plans for continued care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104964
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dentistry
Early online date06 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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Copyright © 2024. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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