Nassani MZ, Kay EJ. Tooth loss – an assessment of dental health state utility values. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2011; 39: 53–60. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S
Objective: The study described aimed to measure the value placed on oral health, by measuring the utility of mouths in which teeth had been lost.
Methods: A total of 102 subjects who had experienced tooth loss were interviewed and presented with 19 different scenarios of mouths with missing teeth. Each written description was accompanied by a verbal explanation and digital pictures of mouth models. Participants were asked to indicate on a standardized visual analogue scale how they would value the health of their mouth if they had lost the tooth/teeth described and the resulting space was left unrestored.
Results: With a utility value of 0.0 representing the worst possible health state for a mouth and 1.0 representing the best, the mouth with the upper central incisor missing attracted the lowest utility value (utility = 0.16), the one with a missing upper second molar and the missing lower second molar attracted the highest utility values (utility = 0.48, 0.47, respectively). With respect to shortened dental arch (SDA) scenarios, a mouth with a SDA with only the second molar teeth in all quadrants missing attracted the highest utility value (utility = 0.45). A mouth with an extreme SDA with both missing molar and premolar teeth attracted the lowest utility value (utility = 0.06). Both age and gender have a significant influence on how the dentition is valued.
Conclusion: It is feasible and possible to derive measurements of the impact of various degrees of tooth loss on individuals. Further studies are required to examine whether past tooth loss or oral health status affects how tooth loss is viewed.