With the lifespan of the average American increasing, it is critical that the dental profession effectively serves the needs of a diverse aging population. The Division of Geriatric Dentistry helps to improve dental care for the elderly through education on aging and related dental conditions, while helping to maintain quality of life through services that help to restore and maintain oral health.
Recognizing the unique dental and medical needs of senior citizens, the Division of Geriatric Dentistry helps students develop the knowledge and skills needed to render comprehensive oral health care to this population. Students gain an understanding of the complexities of aging, learn about adaptive devices, and study the role of dentistry in total patient care. The division supplements classroom instruction with a rotation in the school’s geriatric clinic, mandated for all third-year students. As part of this rotation, students provide care to senior citizens and attend a weekly seminar session in which each patient and patient management issues are discussed.
The division applies its expertise and commitment to socially-responsible education with weekly community outreach initiatives. Through programs at more than two dozen sites including subsidized housing facilities, assisted living facilities, senior centers, churches and senior daycare centers, the division teaches the elderly about prevention and the care of dentures and also performs oral health and cancer screenings. These programs, conducted with the support of the Massachusetts Division of Elder Affairs, contribute to the well-being of nearly 300 senior citizens throughout the greater Boston area annually.
The division’s research initiatives are designed to help the dental profession improve care provided to senior citizens. Recent research includes studies on issues related to nutrition, oral health, and the needs of elderly psychiatric patients.