The aim of this multicentre prospective study was to investigate the effect of prosthetic restoration for missing posterior teeth in patients with shortened dental arches (SDAs). SDA patients with 2-12 missing occlusal units (a pair of occluding premolars corresponds to one unit, and a pair of occluding molars corresponds to two units) were consecutively recruited from seven university-based dental hospitals in Japan. Patients chose no replacement of missing teeth or prosthetic treatment with removable partial dentures (RPDs) or implant-supported fixed partial dentures (IFPDs). Oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) was measured using the oral health impact profile (Japanese version - OHIP-J) at baseline and follow-up/post-treatment evaluation. Of the 169 subjects who completed baseline evaluation, 125 subjects (mean age; 63.0 years) received follow-up/post-treatment evaluation. No-treatment was chosen by 42% (53/125) of the subjects, and 58% (72/125) chose treatment with a RPD (n = 53) or an IFPD (n = 19). In the no-treatment (NT) group, the mean OHIP summary score at baseline was similar to that at follow-up evaluation (P = 0.69). In the treatment (TRT) group, the mean OHIP summary score decreased significantly after the RPD treatment (P = 0.002), and it tended to decrease, though not statistically significant (P = 0.18), after the IFPD treatment. The restoration of one occlusal unit was associated with a 1.2-point decrease in OHIP summary score (P = 0.034). These results suggest that the replacement of missing posterior teeth with RPDs or IFPDs improved OHRQoL. Prosthetic restoration for SDAs may benefit OHRQoL in patients needing replacement of missing posterior teeth.
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