Oral Health Care in Elderly: Need and Challenges

The geriatric population constitutes 7.6% of over one billion people in India. With the advancements in technology and better access to medical facilities the proportion of older people continues to grow worldwide. Majority of elderly population suffers from one or more chronic systemic disease. These Non-communicable diseases are fast becoming the leading causes of disability and mortality in old age. These not only influences the patient’s ability to maintain oral hygiene and promotion of oral health, but can actually be related to the occurrence of certain oral diseases. The common dental problems in geriatric patients include root caries, periodontal tissue loss, edentulous jaws, oral cancer, burning mouth syndrome or chronic orofacial pain.  Though these impairments are not life threatening, they affect a person’s quality-of-life. The lack of training for management of elderly in dental curriculum results in shortage of specialized dental manpower for their management.  The treatment planning for the senior dental patient includes an understanding of the chronic diseases the patient lives with daily, as this play a critical role in the acceptance and success of the dental treatment plans. There is also a need of education and continuous training to ensure that oral health care providers have skills and a profound understanding of the biomedical and psychosocial aspects of care for older people. There is need of dedicated oral health policy for elderly in the country that should aim at conservation of dentition of old aged people and promotion of oral health by capacity building for oral health care for the elderly.




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