Population trends suggest that the Irish population is ageing, and that this population will have substantial treatment needs. These patients will be better informed than previous generations, and will demand treatment aimed at preserving a natural dentition. This will impact upon delivery of oral healthcare and manpower planning needs to consider how to address the increased demand for dental care. Poor oral health is associated with systemic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes mellitus. It also has a negative impact upon quality of life, and the World Health Organisation has encouraged public healthcare administrators and decision makers to design effective and affordable strategies for better oral health and quality of life of older adults, which, in turn, are integrated into general health management programmes. Treatment concepts such as minimally invasive dentistry and the shortened dental arch concept are discussed in the context of these demographic changes and recommendations.