Aging and Oral Function

  • Saul Kamen
  • Leonard B. Kamen
Part of the Contemporary Geriatric Medicine book series (COGM, volume 2)


The impact of oral status on the clinical management of geriatric patients by the physician can seriously compromise progress and alter prognosis. Thus, poor masticatory function may thwart efforts to provide nutritional support for the victim of a stroke, while noncompliance with recommendations for antibiotic prophylaxis of the cardiac patient has been identified as the chief etiologic factor in subacute bacterial endocarditis following dental intervention. Because the vast majority of geriatric patients have at least one major chronic disorder, the medical-dental interactions in their care by both physicians and dentists demand scrupulous attention to the effects of aging on oral function. As ever-increasing numbers of elderly are integrated into dental practice, the physician should also expect that he will be called on more frequently for advice on such diverse aspects of care as the drug profile of the patient and possible contraindications for certain dental procedures; the use of sedative agents to minimize stress or manage the patient with depression or dementia; and management of the patient with iatrogenic oral manifestations. This chapter will focus on critical issues of mutual concern to dentists and allied professionals, and it is our hope that upon completion the reader will be able to
  1. 1.

    identify the effects of aging on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth,

  2. 2.

    perform a regional evaluation of the mouth and its adnexae,

  3. 3.

    appreciate the oral manifestations of systemic disorders in the medically compromised older patient.

  4. 4.

    understand the role of the dental professional in a rehabilitation program for the geriatric patient with physical and mental limitations,

  5. 5.

    participate appropriately in the consultative process for antibiotic prophylaxis, sedation, and other aspects of dental management of the high-risk older patient,

  6. 6.

    implement standards for oral health care of the institutionalized frail elderly in the long-term care facility,

  7. 7.

    counsel the geriatric patient on methods of preventing oral disorders such as caries and periodontal disease.



Oral Health Periodontal Disease Oral Cancer Oral Mucosa Geriatric Patient 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saul Kamen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Leonard B. Kamen
    • 3
  1. 1.Jewish Institute for Geriatric CareNew Hyde ParkUSA
  2. 2.School of Dental MedicineState University of New York at Stony BrookStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationTemple University Health Sciences CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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