Preparing dental graduates to provide care for frail and care-dependent older patients: An educational intervention




gerodontology, aged care, oral health, dental, curriculum, education


Introduction: Australia’s population is living longer and retaining more of their dentition. While the demand for oral health services in residential aged-care facilities increases, there is a call for further inclusion of gerodontology in the undergraduate dental curriculum. This qualitative study explored the attitude of dental students to providing oral health care to older people using a pilot gerodontology curriculum as an intervention during a final-year clinical placement in Hobart, Tasmania.

Methods: Focus groups with undergraduate dental students on clinical placement were conducted in 2018 prior to and after implementation of a pilot gerodontology curriculum. The qualitative data was thematically analysed.

Results: Two focus groups were conducted with a total of 18 dental students. The main themes included: applied practical learning in aged care, unpreparedness for managing frail older patients, lack of confidence with the process of gaining consent from people with dementia, barriers to providing care to older people and interactions with residents and staff of residential aged-care facilities. 

Conclusions: This study highlighted the barriers for dental students providing care to older people. There is a need to evaluate how gerodontology is currently taught in the undergraduate dental curriculum to better prepare the dental workforce to respond effectively and more confidently to the growing population of dentate older people in residential aged-care facilities.

Author Biography

Angie Nilsson, James Cook University

Clinical Director of Oral Health Services (Townsville Hospital and Health Services)


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How to Cite

Nilsson, A., Young, L., & Croker, F. (2021). Preparing dental graduates to provide care for frail and care-dependent older patients: An educational intervention. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 22(2), 23–38.