Article: Volume 48 Number 2 Page 119 - February 2021

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  Dent Update 2021; 48: 119-124

Special Care Dentistry:  Oral Healthcare in the Older Population: An Increasing Challenge to the UK Dental Profession

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Abstract: The percentage of the UK population that is over 65 years old is growing and this brings a number of complex challenges for the dental profession. Patients are struggling to attend for appointments and those who do are attending with increasing physical and mental morbidities and greater care needs, with dementia, in particular, bringing significant difficulties and complications during dental management. This article describes the oral manifestations of dementia and provides clinical advice to practitioners in supporting these patients, and discusses communication, diagnosis, treatment planning, consent, the dental practice environment and home care advice.

Clinical relevance: This article highlights the challenges an older population brings to the dental profession, focusing on the complications dementia creates. It describes its oral manifestations, as well as providing clinical advice to help practitioners support these patients in all aspects of their care.

Author notes: Hannah Barrow, BDS, MFDS RCSEd Dental Core Trainee, Pinderfields General Hospital, Aberford Road, Wakefield and Martin Ashley, BDS (hons) FDSRCS (Eng) FDS (Rest Dent) RCS MPhil, Consultant and Honorary Professor in Restorative Dentistry and Oral Health, University Dental Hospital of Manchester, UK. email:

Objective: To explore the challenges of an older population and how this affects the dental profession, with a focus on how patients with dementia may present and how they can be supported in the dental setting.