DENT 534

Geriatric Dentistry

Susanne Kölare Jeffrey

1 Credit Per Quarter, 2 Credits Total
Quarters 10 & 11 (Course #1: Winter, Third Year; Course #2: Spring, Third Year )

Course Description

Course #1: Special needs of elderly persons related to dental care: physiology and psychology of aging, systemic and oral health issues affecting older adults, medications used by elders and their potential adverse effects on oral health, socioeconomic issues and disparities which affect oral health and access to care, maintaining communication, and achieving informed consent with older patients.

Course #2: Dental management of elderly patients, providing appropriate clinical services recognizing impact of systemic health, medications, psychosocial, socioeconomic barriers, and managing frail elders in long-term care settings, and conducting appropriate treatment planning.

Educational Objectives

Course #1: The student will gain knowledge in geriatric dentistry, issues concerning the elderly population today, the aging process, and the effects of aging upon oral health. The objectives in the first course will be for the student: (1) identify oral conditions common to older persons, with particular emphasis on pathology which increases in frequency with age; (2) Eliciting a thorough medical and medication history from aged patients; and (3) obtaining a psychosocial history which describes factors that influence the older person’s dental needs and ability to obtain care.

Course #2: Objectives in the second course in this series will be: (1) to coordinate dental care with other health care disciplines, e.g., medicine, pharmacy, social work, and nursing; (2) to develop competency in performing clinical procedures with geriatric patients aligned with their special needs; (3) to understand how specific dental procedures (restorative, endodontic, periodontal, prosthodontic, oral surgery) differ in older vs. younger patients; and (4) to develop comprehensive treatment plans which consider the health, physiological and psychological status, as well as the overall health of elderly patients..

Course Outline

Course #1: Lecture topics include: historical patterns and the future of geriatric dentistry; the demographic imperative; normal and abnormal changes in physiological functions with aging; diseases, oral changes with aging; epidemiology of oral diseases in the elderly; normal and abnormal changes in cognitive functioning; mental health and disease; variations among geriatric patients; communicating with older patients; and assessment.

Course #2: Topics focus on clinical issues: update on medications used by the elderly and their ADRs; preventive dentistry; periodontal disease and its management in older patients; performing restorative, endodontic, prosthodontic, and oral surgical procedures with geriatric patients; treating frail and high risk elderly patients; and treatment planning issues in geriatric dental care.

Competencies Addressed

  • UWSOD Competency 1: Examine a patient using contemporary diagnostic methods to evaluate the head and neck region and to reach a diagnosis of the patient’s oral and craniofacial health status (Course #1) .
  • UWSOD Competency 2: Communicate the risks and benefits of proposed care and alternative treatment strategies available, then obtain expressed consent for treatment conveyed by a patient or legal guardian (Course #1, 2).
  • UWSOD Competency 3: Formulate a comprehensive treatment plan based on diagnostic findings, then implement treatment in a safe, properly sequenced, timely manner (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 4: Provide patient education in the prevention of oral diseases to promote oral and general health (Course #1) .
  • UWSOD Competency 7: Manage pulpal and periradicular disease (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 8: Manage dental emergencies (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 14: Manage periodontal diseases (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 15: Assess the teeth and supporting structures and provide preventive services (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 16: Manage diseases and conditions of the teeth (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 17: Manage replacement of teeth for the partially or completely edentulous patient (Course #2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 22: Utilize critical thinking in assessing technical and scientific information for use in identifying patient needs and treatments (Course #1, 2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 23: Apply the principles of behavioral science that pertain to patient-centered oral health care (Course #1, 2) .
  • UWSOD Competency 25: Manage a diverse patient population and have the interpersonal and communication skills to function successfully in a multicultural work environment (Course #1) .


  • Syllabus, DENT 534 containing assigned articles and chapters from various textbooks.

*last updated: 8/2/2012

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