To determine if wearing complete dentures can cause changes in prevalence of some of the most common periodontal pathogens in elderly edentulous patients. The need for understanding the composition of oral microflora in edentulous patients has been recognized by some authors, but no studies have dealt with the changes that occur in periodontal pathogens' prevalence as a result of complete dentures.
A total of 30 edentulous elderly (average age 71) patients participated in the study. Complete dentures were fabricated for each patient, and the residual alveolar ridges were swabbed before denture insertion. After a period of 6 months swabs were taken again. Identification of P. intermedia, A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, T. forsythia, T. denticola, and F. nucleatum was done by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method and primers specific for each microorganism.
A noticeable increase in the presence of periodontal pathogens was observed after 6 months of denture wearing; targeted bacteria were identified in 17 pre-insertion samples compared to 28 post-insertion samples. The McNemar test was used to compare the prevalence of periodontal pathogenic bacteria before and after dental treatment. p<0.05 indicated statistical significance. Three microorganisms showed a statistically significant difference between the first and second swabbing-A. actinomycetemcomitans (6.7% vs. 40.0%, p = 0.006), P. intermedia (30.0% vs. 73.3%, p = 0.004), and T. forsythia (6.7% vs. 30.0%, p = 0.004). There was also an increase in bacteria co-associations 6 months post-insertion of complete dentures.
The results of the present study suggested that wearing complete dentures caused a considerable increase of periodontopathic bacteria prevalence in elderly patients. Better understanding of oral microflora and the impact dental treatment has on bacterial colonies is important in modern dentistry.