Purpose: To record the available current national and regional data on the oral health of community-dwelling (living in their own homes, not institutionalised) older people globally and discuss the future trends considering existing dangers and opportunities.
Materials and Methods: A literature search on tooth loss, dental decay and periodontal disease in the elderly was performed using available databases and electronic sources.
Results: The findings revealed that the updated national data are scarce in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa, Asia and South America, and direct comparisons are not always possible due to methodological variations. The available information may indicate that dental disease in older adults worldwide is more prevalent compared to younger age groups, with significant variation between countries and regions. Tooth loss is currently more common in the developed countries, while dental decay and periodontal disease are more widespread globally. There are important threats for further deterioration of the oral status among older adults in many developed and less developed areas due to existing sociodemographic and economic risk factors.
Conclusion: National studies should be undertaken to record the specific oral problems of the elderly in each area. It is also necessary to develop gerodontology study programmes globally at the undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education levels which will enhance dentists knowledge, skills and attitudes towards oral care in the older population, and will promote opportunities for further research and development of relevant policies.
Keywords: dental caries, elderly, oral health, periodontal disease, tooth loss