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J Dent Educ. 2013 Oct;77(10):1270-85.

Geriatrics education in U.S. dental schools: where do we stand, and what improvements should be made?

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University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, 263 Farmington Ave., Farmington, CT 06030-3910;


The number of adults above sixty-five years of age in the United States will expand considerably over the next thirty years. However, many dentists believe that their dental education did not adequately prepare them to treat an older adult population. Consequently, it is important to review dental curricula to determine where these gaps in education may occur and what can be done to address them in order to improve access to care. In this study, information was gathered from the websites of sixty-two U.S. dental schools in order to understand the types of geriatric courses offered. This review revealed that while most schools (89 percent) provide their predoctoral students with some education in geriatrics, only fourteen (22.6 percent) offer clinical training specifically for older adult care. In addition, forty-three schools (69 percent) include a geriatric component in either their General Practice Residency or Advanced Education in General Dentistry programs or have a certificate program in geriatric dentistry. Only about 23 percent of the schools offer a continuing education course in geriatrics at any one time. Previous studies have shown that clinical training is the most effective method of increasing students' confidence in treating older patients. Consequently, dental schools should work to incorporate clinical experience into geriatric education to prevent widening an existing gap in older adult oral health care.


access to care; aging; dental education; elderly care; geriatric dentistry; medically compromised care; older adult care; oral health care for the underserved; patients with special needs

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