Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/52453
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Type: Journal article
Title: Population ageing and dental care
Author: Harford, J.
Citation: Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 2009; 37(2):97-103
Publisher: Blackwell Munksgaard
Issue Date: 2009
ISSN: 0301-5661
1600-0528
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Jane Harford
Abstract: Population ageing is a fact in both developed and developing countries. The concern about population ageing largely arises from the combination of a greater number of older people requiring greater amounts of healthcare services and pensions, and relatively fewer people working to pay for them. Oral health and dental care are important aspects of health and health care. Lower rates of edentulism and an ageing population mean that older people will feature more prominently in dental services. Traditionally, economic studies of ageing have focused on the fiscal implications of ageing, projecting the increased burden on health and welfare services that accompanies ageing. It assumed that ageing is the major driver of recent changes and those past trends will simply be amplified by faster population ageing in the future. Less work has been done to understand other past drivers of increased healthcare spending and their implications for the future. The conclusion of these reports is usually that population ageing is unaffordable with current policy settings. They have proposed policies to deal with population ageing which focused on increasing workforce participation and worker productivity to increase the tax base and reducing entitlements. However, the affordability question is as much political as a numerical. There are no clearly articulated criteria for affordability and little opportunity for public discourse about what citizens are willing to pay in taxes to support an ageing population. While the reports do not necessarily reflect public opinion, they will certainly shape it. Predicting the future for oral health is more fraught than for general health, as oral health is in the midst of an epidemiological transition from high rates of edentulism and tooth loss to low rates. Changes in the pattern of dental expenditure in the past do not mirror the experience of rapid increases in per capita expenditure on older age groups as regards general health. Dentistry's marginal status means that less work has been done to understand the future consequences of these changes and how they will interact with population ageing. Further than this though, we need to understand why the future might look as these projections suggest, so that we may look at ways that it can be shaped.
Keywords: ageing; dental care; economics
RMID: 0020090313
DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.2008.00441.x
Appears in Collections:Dentistry publications

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