Objective: This study compared the clinical time spent and the costs incurred whilst constructing complete dentures (CDs) using a two-visit digital-denture protocol with the conventional complete denture protocol, in a university setting. Methods: Twelve undergraduate final-year dental students utilized both the digital denture protocol and the conventional complete denture protocol to construct two sets of CDs for patients requiring either an upper CD opposing a partial natural dentition restored using a partial removable prosthesis [Group#1: students: n = 6, upper CD: n = 12 (6-digital complete dentures +6-conventional complete dentures)] or both upper and lower CDs [Group#2: students: n = 6, upper and lower CDs: n = 24 (12-digital complete dentures+ 12-conventional complete dentures)]. Overall time spent and costs (clinical, materials, and laboratory) were calculated. A cost minimization analysis was performed to compare the economic costs of the two protocols. Paired t-tests were applied for the statistical analyses (p <0.05). Results: Conventional complete denture protocol required longer clinical time than digital complete dentures for both Group#1 (p = 0.0206) and Group#2 (p = 0.0020). The materials costs were higher for the digital complete dentures in both groups (Group#1 p <0.0001; Group#2: p = 0.0002). The overall costs, were significantly higher for the conventional complete denture protocol than for the digital denture protocol (Group#1: p = 0.0032; Group 2: p = 0.0080). Conclusions: In a university setting student clinic in Geneva in Switzerland, the digital denture protocol is less costly when compared with the conventional complete denture protocol. The costs for clinical chairside time, laboratory and the overall costs were significantly lower for the digital denture protocol, even though the materials costs for this protocol were higher. Clinical significance: The digital denture protocol might prove highly beneficial to the elderly and/or the compromised edentulous patient, as it can help decrease the treatment burden on the patient by reducing the clinical procedures, number of visits, treatment time and incurred costs.
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