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.


CAUSES:



  • 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.


SIDE EFFECTS:



  • 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.


HELPFUL TIPS:

  • 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.