Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Healthy, natural teeth are always at risk for tooth decay, especially if food and/or plaque are not removed daily. Senior adults are at risk for developing root cavities, especially if there are physical or cognitive limitations that make regular brushing a challenge; risk factors also include gum disease, generalized poor health, systemic diseases or certain medications.
- A diet that includes foods high in sugar, such as candy, raisins and fruit drinks.
- High levels of bacteria in the mouth.
- Removable partial dentures that allow food debris to accumulate.
- Dry mouth due to radiation therapy or conditions such as diabetes.
- Sugar-rich medications and/or supplements.
- Toothaches and abscesses (infections).
- Broken teeth.
- Loss of teeth, causing inadequate chewing which leads to poor nutrition.
- Costly dental treatment
- Extreme sensitivity to heat and cold.
- Schedule a thorough dental exam and complete all recommended treatment before the decay progresses.
- Once the mouth is stabilized, maintain regular, periodic dental cleanings that include a fluoride varnish application by a professional hygienist.
- Brush teeth twice a day with a high-fluoride concentrated toothpaste prescribed by a dentist.
- Rinse with non-alcohol mouthwash.
- Limit sugar intake.
- If dry mouth is a problem, drink at least eight glasses of water a day, suck on ice chips, and chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to produce saliva.