Geriatric dentistry or gerodontics is the delivery of dental care to older adults involving the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of problems associated with normal aging and age-related diseases as part of an interdisciplinary team with other health care professionals.
In the elderly population poor oral health has been considered a risk factor for general health problems. On the other hand, older adults are more susceptible to oral conditions or diseases due to an increase in chronic conditions and physical/mental disabilities. Thus, old people form a distinct group in terms of provision of care.
The dental diseases that the elderly are particularly prone to are root caries, attrition, periodontal disease, missing teeth because of earlier neglect, ill-fitting dentures, mucosal lesions, oral ulceration, dry mouth oral cancers, and rampant caries. Many of these are the result of neglect in the early years of life, for example, poor diet, lack of awareness regarding preventive aspects, and bad habits like smoking and/or tobacco chewing.
All these problems may increase in magnitude because of the declining immunity in old age and because of coexisting medical problems. As a result of poor systemic health, the elderly patient often does not pay sufficient attention to oral health. In addition, some medications lead to dry mouth, and the absence of saliva in the mouth increases the likelihood of oral disease.