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Why Root Decay is More Common in Adults Over 50

Graphic showing different stages of root decay

Decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues are prevalent among seniors and can often result in tooth loss. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, approximately 5.6% of adults aged 50-64 years have no remaining teeth.

Root decay is a common cause of tooth loss in seniors and is often caused by factors related to aging, including a higher risk of comorbid conditions and long-term poor oral health habits.

Learn about the leading causes behind root decay in adults over 50 and how early treatment at Caputo Dental can help.

Gingival Recession

Gingival recession occurs when the gum tissue pulls back from the tooth. This can happen for several reasons, including periodontal disease, genetics, smoking, and overbrushing. As the gum tissue recedes, it exposes more of the tooth root, leaving it vulnerable to cavities and making it easier for bacteria to enter the tooth to cause decay.

Increased Risk of Dry Mouth

A dry mouth is a major contributor to root decay. Saliva is critical for washing away bacteria, food debris, and excess sugars after you eat. When you have a dry mouth, bacteria build up and produce acid that erodes tooth enamel and causes decay.

Medications and illness are two major causes of dry mouth. Medications that cause dry mouth include antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants. Illnesses that cause dry mouth include diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is a major contributing factor to root decay. When plaque and tartar are not removed from the teeth regularly, they can cause cavities and gum disease. Untreated gum disease can cause inflammation that causes deep gum pockets that fill with bacteria, leading to root decay.

High Sugar Diet

A diet high in sugar can promote bacterial growth, which can then attack the roots of the teeth. Sugary foods can stick to the teeth and provide a food source for bacteria. This can lead to cavities and pulp infection. If left untreated, this infection can cause root decay and tooth loss.

Increased Risk of Comorbid Conditions

Comorbidities, or the presence of multiple chronic diseases or conditions, are a significant risk factor for root decay. Seniors experience higher rates of comorbid conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

These diseases and conditions are linked with a higher risk of oral health issues, including root decay. If you have comorbidities, it is essential to tell your dentist so that they can provide the best possible care.

Support Your Dental Health As You Age

Root decay is a preventable condition, so older adults must see their dentist regularly and take steps to prevent cavities. Common treatments for root decay include scaling and root planing, and root canal therapy.

At Caputo Dental, we offer the All-on-4® procedure for adults who have lost an entire arch of teeth due to age, root decay, or injury. The All-on-4® procedure can give you a beautiful, natural-looking smile that can last a lifetime.

If you show symptoms of root decay, schedule an appointment with Caputo Dental by calling us at (630) 922-1311.

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