Geriatric dentistry or geriodontics is the delivery of oral care to older adults involving the detection, prevention, and treatment of problems associated with normal aging and age-related diseases. 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, wearing down of teeth,disease of gums and associated structures, missing teeth because of earlier neglect, poor quality of bony ridges, ill-fitting dentures, mucosal lesions, oral ulceration, dry mouth, oral cancers, and rampant caries.
Many of these are the sequelae of neglect in the early years of life, for example, consumption of a diet which causes teeth to decay, lack of awareness regarding preventive aspects, and habits like smoking and/or tobacco, pan, and betel nut 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, medications like antihypertensives, antipsychotics etc., lead to xerostomia, and the absence of the protective influences of saliva in the oral cavity increases the predisposition to oral disease. Financial constraints and lack of family support or of transportation facilities affect access to dental services in later life. The untreated oral cavity has its deleterious effects on comfort, esthetics, speech, potential of chewing and, consequently, on quality of life in old age.