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Geriatric Dentistry: Before You Call 911

Course Number: 586


Aging is a normal physiological process that every living organism has to go through and is considered to be inevitable in the cycle of life. A large segment of the American population born between 1946 and 1964, also known as the ‘Baby Boomers,’ will soon comprise the largest and the fastest growing segment of society. Some of the members of this generation were witness to events such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Moon Landing and other defining moments in U.S. history.

These Baby Boomers were born after World War II with many being highly educated, resourceful and place a high value on their own medical health. In addition, they are also motivated to keep their natural teeth, thus are in continuous need for specialty dentists and dental hygienists with additional training and experience in providing care for the elderly.11

Also referred to as the ‘Aging Tsunami,’ those over 65 years of age currently comprise approximately 15.2% of the U.S. population today.12 As per the most recent assessment, they will comprise up to 17% of the total population or approximately 1.6 billion people by the year 2050.12 Furthermore, persons aged 80 years and older also represent the fastest-growing age group in this country.13 This wave of retirees is also expected to be associated with an increasing number of complicated medical histories including dental problems and increased consumption of multiple medications, thus having a direct and major impact on the country’s healthcare system. They not only require special care protocols but also a multi-disciplinary approach to their total care and well-being.