Oral health is a matter of public health concern, as it affects a large proportion of the population and is linked with overall health status. With the demographic transition, there is a shift in disease profile, unequal distribution of dental professionals, and no existing oral health care system targeting the elders. It possess a challenge for the health authorities to overcome the financial burden for individuals and society. Given the ageing of the population, there is an immediate necessity to develop an oral health care system tailored to provide appropriate care for an ageing population.
Keywords: Oral care utilization, elderly, geriatric dentistry, dental policy, India
The time to plan and act is now
The need of the hour is to develop a potentially effective community-based theoretical model i.e Quality care Age friendly Technologically enabled Interconnected and Competent (QuATIC) – system for elderly, so as to enhance oral health of the elderly and improve their quality of life. In this multilevel model, the upstream level includes policy making, a common risk factor approach, the implementation of geriatric subjects in the dental curriculum, and goal settings for oral health programs. The second level focuses on the methods to tackle social determinants of oral health through life course approach. The third level emphasizes primary care by bringing the competent oral health care system close to the elders. The fourth level pays attention to strengthening community and to provide on-site dental services to reduce transportation barriers. The last level concentrates on individual factors which can influence the utilization of dental services by the elderly. The factors in all these levels should be evidence-based, focusing on effective, efficient, equitable, and holistic care.
All the levels should be interconnected to each other so as to create a sustainable oral health care system. Such combined forces can move a mountain, thereby enhancing the quality of life of elders.