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Debut ADA symposium to address dental care for 'tsunami' of older patients

March 12, 2019

By David Burger

Photo of Drs. Helgeson and folse listening to a presentation
Committee: Dr. Michael Helgeson, left, and Dr. Greg Folse listen to a presentation on advocacy for geriatric patients at a meeting of the ADA National Elder Care Advisory Committee on March 18 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago. Both will be presenters at the Elder Care Symposium scheduled for June 28.
The first ADA Elder Care Symposium is scheduled for June 28 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago, intending to boost awareness of elder care and oral health and present practical solutions to help dentists succeed in improving the oral health — and overall health — of the often-vulnerable senior population.

The symposium will address what Dr. Michael Medovic, chair of the ADA's National Elder Care Advisory Committee calls the "tsunami" of patients growing older and their expanding need for dental care.

The symposium will be from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and is sponsored by the ADA's Practice Institute. Six continuing education credits hours are offered.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Marsha Pyle, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.

Other scheduled speakers include Dr. Leonard Brennan, co-director of the dental geriatric fellowship program at Harvard University; Dr. Gretchen Gibson, assistant director of advanced education in general dentistry at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks; Dr. Greg Folse, clinical assistant professor at the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry; Paul Mulhausen, M.D., chief medical officer at Telligen; Dr. Janet Yellowitz, director of geriatric dental programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery; Dr. Michael Helgeson, CEO of AppleTree Dental; and Dr. Mark Wolff, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

The stated objectives of the symposium are:

  • Understand the importance of serving older patients and the growing population of patients that need care.
  • Understand how oral health issues change with age.
  • Enhance understanding of the relationship between oral health and systemic health.
  • Understand the use of silver diamine fluoride when treating senior populations.

Dr. Helgeson, a member of the advisory committee, said that he, along with Dr. Yellowitz, will lead a presentation on the benefits of silver diamine fluoride. "I want to present information for dentists to feel more comfortable and confident treating patients with complex medical histories," he said.  Silver diamine fluoride, he said, is a "new tool in the toolbox" that should be considered when dental teams seek to arrest decay and stabilize carious lesions.

The August 2018 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association published a clinical practice guideline with recommendations on nonrestorative treatment options for caries. To read a summary of the recommendations and access a chairside guide, visit ebd.ADA.org.

Dr. Folse, also a member of the advisory committee, operates a mobile geriatric dental practice in Louisiana that provides comprehensive dental treatment to 3,800 nursing facility residents. He said his presentation at the symposium will focus on "how to safely treat geriatric patients and discuss how to safely manage their oral diseases without being invasive."

"Treating those patients in the last season of their life is extremely rewarding and this symposium will help providers do that," Dr. Folse said.

To register for the symposium, visit Success.ADA.org.