Objectives: The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over in Australia is expected to increase substantially, and more people in this age group are retaining their teeth and will require dental care. The objective of this study was to assess the oral health status of inpatients over the age of 65.
Methods: Dental examinations were performed on inpatients at Fremantle Hospital. Standardised assessment forms were used to investigate factors related to medical history, hospital admission and oral health needs.
Results: A total of 104 persons were examined, 56% were dentate. The dentate participants had an average decayed, missing and filled (DMF)-index of 21.6 (SD 7.1). All edentulous participants had dentures and the estimated average age of their dentures was 18.1 years. Although the majority of participants (70.2%) were satisfied with their oral health status, 76.6% were professionally assessed to be in need of immediate dental care. Among the edentulous participants, 47.1% needed new dentures. Among all the participants, 75.3% also needed improved oral hygiene.
Conclusion: There is a need to fully assess availability, appropriateness and effectiveness of models of oral health care delivery among the older population. This study clearly indicates a current problem and high levels of unmet need. With an increasing ageing population and higher retention levels of natural dentitions, this will result in higher levels of oral disease and need for prevention and care.