Geriatric dentistry is concerned with the oral health of elderly persons, who usually have significant medical problems and are taking multiple medications. In addition, they may have psychological and socioeconomic problems that require sophisticated dental management. A basic premise of geriatric dentistry is that elderly people often experience symptoms of dental decay and gingival (gum) disorders that differ from symptoms experienced by younger people. Dental treatment for the elderly is therefore geared to any physical and mental limitations they may have.
Poor oral health in the elderly can lead to loss of appetite, malnutrition, metabolic disorders, and even, in cases of facial disfigurement, the onset of depression. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other illnesses. With the number of elderly persons of advanced age (85 years or older) with mental disorders such as Alzheimer disease reaching epidemic proportions, dental management of affected individuals has become a major challenge in clinical dental practice.