Prof. Dr. Christian Hirsch Oral health-related quality of life and sensitive teeth

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Prof. Dr. Christian Hirsch
Oral health-related quality of life and sensitive teeth
Traditionally, oral indices are used in dentistry to assess oral disease. The DMFT index is used to describe the amount of dental caries, the periodontal disease indices measure the severity of the damage to the tooth attachment apparatus, or the orthodontic treatment required is determined by means of indication groups. However, all these parameters describe the oral disease in question in a relatively one-dimensional way from a purely professional point of view, but nor from the point of view of those affected. As a result of damage to oral structures, they have e.g. problems eating, chewing or talking, or they are unable to relax, become anxious or are dissatisfied with their appearance. This subjective view of oral disease can be recorded with instruments for measuring the oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL), e.g. with the Oral Health Impact Profile for adults or the Child Perceptions Questionnaire for children and adolescents. The “classic parameters” of oral diseases cannot describe these patient-related problems, i.e. a meaningful overall picture can only be obtained when the OHRQoL has been included in the analysis. OHRQoL measurements enable a comparative assessment to be made for example in painful conditions, as reported by patients with exposed dental necks. Representative data from over 2000 subjects from the general population in Germany shows that hypersensitive teeth have a negative impact on the OHRQoL of those affected, although the structural losses (exposed dentine areas in the dental neck area) appear relatively minor. Therefore from the point of view of those affected, hypersensitive teeth need urgent treatment. Ultimately – and this is where health policy plays a part in quality of life measurements – in a mutually supportive community, health insurers should give priority to the financing of those diagnostic and therapeutic measures which make the biggest improvement to the patients’ OHRQoL.

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