The aim of this multicentre study was to investigate the effect of prosthetic restoration for missing posterior teeth on mastication in patients with shortened dental arches (SDAs). Partially dentate patients who had an intact teeth in anterior region and missed distal molar(s) (2-12 missing occlusal units) classified as Kennedy Class I or Class II were recruited from seven university-based dental hospitals in Japan. Of the 125 subjects who underwent baseline (pre-treatment) and follow-up/post-treatment evaluation, 53 chose no replacement of missing teeth and 72 chose treatment with removable partial dentures (n = 53) or implant-supported fixed partial dentures (n = 19). Objective masticatory performance (MP) was evaluated using a gummy jelly test. Perception of chewing ability (CA) was rated using a food intake questionnaire. In the no-treatment group, mean MP and CA scores at baseline were similar to those at follow-up evaluation (P > 0·05). In the treatment group, mean MP after treatment was significantly greater than the pre-treatment mean MP (P < 0·05). However, the mean perceived CA in the treatment groups was similar at pre- and post-treatment (P > 0·05). In a subgroup analysis of subjects in the treatment group, subjects with lower pre-treatment CA showed a significant CA increase after treatment (P = 0·004), but those with higher pre-treatment CA showed a significant decrease in CA (P = 0·001). These results suggest that prosthetic restoration for SDAs may benefit objective masticatory performance in patients needing replacement of missing posterior teeth, but the benefit in subjective chewing ability seems to be limited in subjects with perceived impairment in chewing ability before treatment.
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