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First study to report results of matched health and dental records to assess nutrition levels

Dentures may have a potentially negative impact on a person’s overall nutrition, according to new research from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry. The research team leveraged electronic dental and health records to gain a better understanding of how oral health treatments affect individuals’ overall health over time.

This is believed to be the first study to report the results of utilizing lab values of nutritional biomarkers and linking them with dental records.

“Dentures are a significant change for a person. They do not provide the same chewing efficiency, which may alter eating habits,” said senior author Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD, director of the Regenstrief and IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics program. “Dentists need to be aware of this and provide advice or a referral for nutrition counseling. These patients need support during the transition and possible continued monitoring.”

For the study, the research team matched the dental records of more than 10,000 patients in Indiana with medical laboratory data, specifically markers for malnutrition. The laboratory tests included complete blood count, basic metabolic profile and lipid and thyroid panel tests, among others. They compared the lab results from two years before a patient received dentures to the two years after.

Researchers found that people with dentures had a significant decline in certain nutrition markers over those two years. People who did not wear dentures did not experience this decline. The marker levels were still within normal range, but researchers say there is the potential that the levels will continue to fall as more time passes. They urge dentists to be aware of this possibility.

The next steps in this research area are to look at other factors that may influence nutrition, including insurance status and dental clinic characteristics.

Nutritional Assessment of Denture Wearers Using Matched Electronic Dental-Health Record Data” is published in the Journal of Prosthodontics. This study was funded through a grant from GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, UK.

Dr. Thyvalikakath was the senior author, and Grace Felix Gomez, BDS, MPH, PhD of IU School of Dentistry and Regenstrief was the first author. Other authors are Sopanis D. Cho, DDS, MSD of IU School of Dentistry; Roshan Varghese, BDS, MBA of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare; Divya Rajendran, BTech, M.D. of IU School of Medicine and Innovation Associates, Inc.; George J. Eckert, MAS of IU School of Medicine; Sruthi Surya Bhamidipalli, M.S. of IU School of Medicine; Theresa Gomez, DDS of IU School of Dentistry and Babar Ali Khan, M.D., M.S. of Regenstrief and IU School of Medicine.

About Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD
In addition to her role as a Regenstrief research scientist and director of the Regenstrief and IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics program, Thankam Thyvalikakath, DMD, MDS, PhD, is the director of the dental informatics core, a professor at IU School of Dentistry and an adjunct associate professor in the IUPUI School of Informatics and Computing.

About Regenstrief Institute
Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. A key research partner to Indiana University, Regenstrief and its research scientists are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Sam Regenstrief, a nationally successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

About Indiana University School of Dentistry
The only dental school in the Hoosier state, Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) offers an extraordinary learning environment in which teaching, research and community service come together in the best way possible for the preparation of tomorrow’s dental professionals. About 80 percent of the dentists practicing in the state of Indiana are alumni of the school.

Founded in 1879 in Indianapolis, IUSD is located on the health sciences campus of IUPUI, one of the outstanding urban universities in the United States with a recognized commitment to community engagement. IUSD capitalizes on the campus’s central location in the state and its position in the research corridor that links IUPUI, Purdue University West Lafayette, and Indiana University Bloomington. IUSD faculty conduct world-class interdisciplinary research in collaboration with the other IU health science schools and the Purdue Schools of Engineering and Technology and Science.

About the Regenstrief-IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics Program
Established in 2019, the Regenstrief Institute-IU School of Dentistry Dental Informatics Program is one of only a few in the U.S., and perhaps the only one linked to a clinical data repository managed by a regional health information exchange. The program uses both electronic dental and medical record data for clinical research to develop interoperable databases and advance the knowledge of oral health problems that cause, co-occur with or result from medical conditions. The goal is to implement findings into dental clinics and other points of care.

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