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J Oral Rehabil. 2008 May;35(5):337-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2008.01847.x.

Masticatory ability and functional tooth units in Japanese adults.

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Department of Oral Health Promotion, Graduate School, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.


The purposes of this study were (i) to examine the relationship between the number of natural teeth and the number of functional tooth units in Japanese adults, (ii) to evaluate how functional tooth units relate to subjective masticatory ability and (iii) to determine the minimum number of natural teeth and functional tooth units needed to maintain adequate self-assessed chewing function. A self-administered questionnaire was given and dental examination was conducted for 2164 residents aged 40 to 75 years. Counts were made on the number of functional tooth units of natural teeth (n-functional tooth units), the sum of natural teeth and artificial teeth on implant-supported and fixed prostheses (nif-functional tooth units) and the sum of natural teeth and artificial teeth on implant-supported, fixed and removable prostheses (total-functional tooth units). The average number of natural teeth, n-functional tooth units and nif-functional tooth units decreased with age, but these were often replaced by functional tooth units from artificial teeth on removable prostheses. Total-functional tooth units in 50-59 year old people were slightly lower compared with those in other age groups. Subjects who reported that they could chew every food item on an average had 23.4 total natural teeth, 12.6 posterior natural teeth, 7.6 n-functional tooth units, 8.6 nif-functional tooth units and 10.4 total-functional tooth units, and subjects without chewing difficulties had fewer functional tooth units from removable prostheses. Maintaining 20 and more natural teeth and at least eight nif-functional tooth units is important in reducing the likelihood of self-assessed chewing difficulties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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