ADAA View Course

Geriatric Dentistry: Reviewing for the Present, Preparing for the Future (AGD 750)

Presenter: Natalie Kaweckyj, LDA, RF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, BA


The United States’ population is “graying” at a considerable rate. The US Census estimated that in 2013 there would be over 44.7 million Americans over the age of 65. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, it is estimated that by the year 2020, people 60 years of age and older will represent nearly 25% of the population base. Currently, there are an estimated 53,000 persons in the United States 100 years old or older, the largest number of them residing in California, New York, and Florida. Advances in health care technology along with the baby boom of the 1940s and 1950s has resulted in more individuals surviving into the eighth and ninth decades of life and beyond, resulting in a larger percentage of the population being elderly.

In addition to the medical advances that have enabled people to live longer and healthier lives, dental advances have resulted in the preservation of healthy dentition in these later years. Edentulousness and dentures are no longer the inevitable consequences of aging. In 1958, 65% of the older adult patients were edentulous and wore full dentures; in 1985 the percentage dropped down to 48%; although the percentage continues to steadily decrease, the increase in the population of elderly people will offset the decrease to some extent. With the increases in retention of natural dentition, more elderly patients are being seen in dental practices more regularly to maintain their oral health. The older adult patient frequently presents a variety of treatment dilemmas during dental care, and certain factors should be considered when rendering treatment.


Natalie Kaweckyj is a Licensed Dental Assistant with restorative functions at Children’s Dental Services in Minneapolis where she spends the majority of her time in hospital setting providing care under general anesthesia. The challenges of public health keep Natalie continually looking for solutions. She has worked academically, administratively and clinically, as well as legislatively in the 28 years as a dental assistant. As a DANB certificant, Natalie holds all 6 of DANB’s credentials (the only one world-wide) as well as a BA in Biology and Psychology from Metropolitan State University.

Natalie served two terms as President of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) in 2017-2018 and 2010-2011, remains active on several councils, and served as a President of the Professional Dental Assistants Educational Foundation (PDAEF). She served as a three-term president for the Minnesota Dental Assistants Association (MNDAA) and remains as the state business secretary. Natalie has been recognized with several ADAA awards, was one of the first ADAA Fellows in 1999 and became the first ADAA Master in 2004. She has published numerous continuing education courses, over 500 articles and lectures nationally and internationally on a variety of dental subjects.

Organized dentistry gave Natalie the insight early on that you can make a difference as a dental professional, and she was instrumental in seeing licensure for dental assistants come to fruition in Minnesota in 2009 as well as several expanded functions throughout the years. Natalie enjoys giving back to the community and does so with her volunteer writing contributions for a number of different organizations as well as her time with the ADAA and the Dental Peeps Network as a Senior Moderator.


Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

• Recognize the impact the older population will have on the dental field.
• Explain the need to assess each patient as an individual and not categorize by age.
• Describe aging as a lifelong process and explain the overall impact on integrated organs and systems.
• Explain the importance of obtaining a medical history update.
• Describe potential drug interactions with drugs used in the dental setting.
• Summarize the importance of proper attitudes and their effect on interactions between the dental team and the patient.
• Explain the correlation of certain medications and oral conditions.
• Identify treatment modification for various medical and physical conditions.
• Recite home care modification for various medical and physical conditions.
• List special considerations for the development of treatment plans for the older patient.
• Describe how to assist and manage a patient who is affected by tremors.
• Explain the need for premedication before treatment.
• Identify steps patients may take to help with xerostomia and oral cancer.
• Discuss approaches for managing the patient with Parkinson’s disease.
• Describe and explain the importance of good verbal and listening skills, and of providing written instructions for the patient to avoid errors of interpretation.


The ADAA has an obligation to disseminate knowledge in the field of dentistry.  Sponsorship of a continuing education program by the ADAA does not necessarily imply endorsement of a particular philosophy, product or technique.

The ADAA cautions participants taking this course on the hazards of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into their practices.

Credits earned upon completion of the course may be used to meet DANB’s Recertification Requirements.


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