With a rapidly aging population in Asia, and a high prevalence of chronic disease in the population over 65 years, there is a need to reconsider current approaches in delivering oral care to the elderly. The type of care they need is not shaped by chronological age alone but also by their health status, social circumstances, frailty and level of dependence.
The retention of healthy teeth in the elderly contributes to overall physical and mental health and quality of life. There are specific issues that need to be considered when providing dental care for older patients. The incidence of general disease is higher in this population, as is the amount of prescribed medication, these can complicate dental management by altering salivary flow, causing bleeding disorders and tissue overgrowth. Oral diseases are cumulative and become more complex to manage over time. In older individuals, conservative treatments should be considered first, as complex options such as implant-born structures could be more challenging to maintain as patients get older. In the natural course of ageing, individuals will transition from being robust (active and capable) to being frail (limited activity and capability) and finally being dependent (very limited activity and capability), the ability to cope with extensive treatment decreases with age and, in more severe cases, patients must be sedated for dental care. More importantly, effective care of the elderly, particularly the frail elderly, requires a team-based approach.
In this symposium, three international speakers will present a structured approach, to formulate a care plan for older individuals, composing of the following 3 steps: identify the issues and possible solutions, protect the dentition and patient, control disease and maintain oral and general health. They will also discuss the use of preventive and restorative materials and techniques in the elderly.