Niessen Symposium to address dental care for geriatric patients

April 23rd, 2015

The burgeoning retirement-age population in the U.S. and its ever-increasing impact on dental care will be highlighted during the third annual Linda C. Niessen Geriatric Dentistry Symposium at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.

Dr. Eleonore Paunovich

Dr. Eleonore Paunovich

This year’s May 15 event will feature Dr. Eleonore Paunovich, director of oral health clinical programs for geriatric and special care patients at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio. She also is clinical professor in geriatric dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and clinical program director of its Geriatric Dentistry Fellowship.

Shifting demographics in the U.S. mean dramatic increases in the number of older patients served by dental practices — 1 in 5 patients will be 65 years or older by the year 2030, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

“While this growing population of older adults remains healthy and active, aging does present challenges to health care providers such as multiple chronic medical problems, multiple medications, functional limitations as well as cognitive impairments,” Paunovich says. “Many of these issues associated with aging may present barriers to access to care in dental practices.”

At the symposium, she will offer strategies for the dental management of medically challenged older adults to increase awareness of methods to ensure safe, appropriate and comfortable care to this population. Paunovich will provide preventive and restorative approaches to managing caries and periodontal disease for patients with acute exacerbations of chronic systemic conditions.

Care of patients with neuromuscular degenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke also will be covered, along with treatment recommendations for older patients with cognitive challenges.

The symposium will offer seven hours of continuing education credits provided through the Office of Continuing Education. Register online for the event, scheduled 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

About the Linda C. Niessen Geriatric Dentistry Symposium

Initiated in 2013 by Dr. Helena Tapias, assistant professor in restorative sciences, the annual symposium is geared toward helping dentists address the needs of geriatric patients. It is named in honor of Dr. Linda Niessen, a longtime clinical professor at TAMBCD and now dean of Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

— Jennifer Fuentes