This publication brings together data from existing national, regional and local surveys of oral health in older people. It combines this information with social, demographic and health data to provide a summary of what we already know about the current and future oral health needs of older people in England and Wales.
There are currently 11 million people in the UK over the age of 65, a figure that is set to increase to 14 million by 2032.
The ‘active ageing’ policy framework proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that structural barriers present within the health and social care, employment and education sectors should be removed to allow ageing to be a positive experience. It recognises the rights of older people to equality of opportunity and treatment in all aspects of life.
Aligning health, workplace, education and social policies to support active ageing can address the social and economic challenges posed by an ageing population and broaden the opportunities for increasing participation and contribution.
Good oral health is an essential component of active ageing. Social participation, communication and dietary diversity are all impacted when oral health is impaired. Significant gains in oral health have been made in the last 30 years and the majority of older people now retain some natural teeth.
However, as in other sectors, for the benefits of improved oral health to be fully realised, structural barriers built into the existing dental and social care systems need to be removed.
The aim is to create an equitable and responsive system that can deliver prevention and treatment for all, in proportion to their need.