Changing demographics, including an increase in life expectancy and the growing numbers of elderly has recently focused attention on the need for geriatric dental care. Ageing affects oral tissues in addition to other parts of the human body, and oral health (including oral mucosa, lips, teeth and associated structures, and their functional activity) is an integral component of general health; indeed, oral disease can cause pain, difficulty in speaking, mastication, swallowing, maintaining a balanced diet, not to mention aesthetical considerations and facial alterations leading to anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization recommends the adoption of certain strategies for improving the oral health of the elderly, including the management and maintenance of oral conditions which are necessary for re-establishing effective masticatory function. Oral health is often neglected in the elderly, and oral diseases associated with aging are complex, adversely affecting the quality of life. Although oral health problems are not usually associated with death, oral cancers result in nearly 8,000 deaths each year, and more than half of these occur at an age of 65 years plus. This report, which is dedicated to geriatric physicians, geriatric dentistry and specialists in oral medicine reviews age-related oral changes in elderly patients and efforts to summarize the effects of aging in hard and soft oral tissues.
Keywords: Ageing, oral health, quality of life, geriatrics, dental care, oral medicine, elderly, oral mucosal conditions, periodontal diseases, salivary glands, burning mouth syndrome
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