Dr. Michael MacEntee, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Gerodontology, presents his thoughts about how geriatric dentistry may be practised 10 years from now by generalists and specialists.
- The biggest change that has occurred in dental geriatrics over the last quarter century has been the retention of natural teeth for normal life expectancy.
- The challenge with this change is that people are now susceptible to caries for life.
- A game changer will be identification of the associations between systemic and oral health caused by poor diet and malnutrition.
- Another game changer is the possible over-use of implants which become difficult to maintain hygienically when people become more frail and disabled.
- A third game changer is that many elderly people will remain at home rather than go to a care or nursing facility as they grow frail. And, unless an effective mobile dental service is readily available for homebound people, they will not have access to proper oral care.
- Change starts at the dental school and is maintained by continuing educational programmes where dentists develop abilities to provide services that can be delivered beyond the usual dental chair practice.
- Dental associations could increase their role in bringing the issues of oral health in old age to the surface and advocate interprofessionally and publically to enhance access to oral health care for people who are elderly and frail.
Dr. MacEntee is past-president of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, the Geriatric Oral Research Group of the International Association of Dental Research, the International College of Prosthodontists, and the Association of Prosthodontists of Canada. He also received the Distinguished Scientist Award for his research in dental geriatrics, and is an elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Currently, he is the editor-in-chief of Gerodontology.
He has been involved for most of his academic career with the oral health needs of older people – as a teacher, a researcher, and a prosthodontist. He established the ELDERS (Elders’ Link with Dental Education, Research and Service) Group with colleagues at UBC to provide a multidisciplinary focus on the needs of ageing population along with the educational needs of dentists and dental students within an overall context of research. His research addresses oral health and quality of life in old age with particular interest in frailty and the psychosocial impact of oral prostheses. He has published several textbooks, over 20 book chapters and more than 150 peer-reviewed papers on the measurement, distribution, impact and management of oral disorders of older adults. His received research grants from numerous sources, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (USA); and Health Canada.
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