AbstractAbstract Introduction Loss of teeth and resultant resorption of the residual ridges is a major oral health problem in India. The resorption leads to irreversible loss of bone volume of the jaws and seriously undermines retention and stability of future dentures. Loss of masticatory efficiency causes nutritional deficiencies and affects quality of life also. However, construction of over-dentures (dentures anchored to modified teeth or roots), a sophisticated procedure requiring skills of several dental specialists, can arrest the resorption and provide retentive dentures. Dental specialists in India are, however, concentrated in urban areas leaving the rural populace underserviced. The aim of our study was to find out whether newly graduated dentists, under remote guidance from specialists, can fabricate over-dentures that are functional and improve the oral health related quality of life. Methods Two groups of subjects were treated with over-dentures. Group 1 consisted of subjects attending a rural dental health clinic (site1) and group 2 at a university teaching hospital (site 2). 2 new dental graduates at each site carried out treatment. Operators at site 1 were guided remotely over a telemedicine link, cellphones and emails while those at site 2 were guided directly. Functional assessment of dentures was carried out at the end of the treatment period to determine the technical quality of dentures. Subjective evaluation was carried out by subjects completing the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-EDENT) questionnaire for edentulous subjects before and after treatment. Results: No statistically significant difference was seen between the functional assessment scores of dentures from the two sites (p=0.08) at 95% confidence interval. Both groups also experienced significant improvement in all domains of OHIP - EDENT. Conclusion: Remotely supervised newly graduated general dentists can provide over-dentures of sufficient quality to rural population. This strategy has the potential to improve access to care and elevate the level of dentistry available to rural population when referral to specialists in not feasible. The results of the study provides pointers for dental public health policy makers and administrators in developing nations on how to leverage Information and Communication Technology infrastructure to enhance access to care in rural areas.
Authors own copyright of their articles appearing in the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics. Readers may copy articles without permission of the copyright owner(s), as long as the author and OJPHI are acknowledged in the copy and the copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes. Share-alike: when posting copies or adaptations of the work, release the work under the same license as the original. For any other use of articles, please contact the copyright owner. The journal/publisher is not responsible for subsequent uses of the work, including uses infringing the above license. It is the author's responsibility to bring an infringement action if so desired by the author.