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Geriatric Patients: Oral Health and the Operating Room


Address correspondence to Jeffrey S. Yasny, DDS, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1010 New York, NY 10029. E-mail:


Many patients requiring surgery possess poor oral health. The presence of decayed teeth and periodontitis represent potentially potent causes of odontogenic infection that could significantly compromise the surgical outcome. Geriatric patients presenting for surgery who have not had a dental examination for years may be harboring an undetected oral infection. In the perioperative period, the harmful effects of such an infection are amplified in terms of treatment and expenses. This article will elaborate on the association between oral health and systemic disease, present unique intraoral characteristics of elderly patients, and emphasize the importance of obtaining a dental evaluation and treating any acute oral infection before surgery. Augmenting the awareness of the perioperative dental considerations in the geriatric population can lead to the implementation of effective and preventive measures that can contain costs and achieve optimal patient care.