Sedona Dentist Chris Marsh observes that people are living longer and keeping their natural teeth more than ever before. The frequency of getting a root cavity is strongly age-dependent and will continue to be a major dental problem among the elderly.
Dental risk factors associated with the high prevalence of root cavities among older adults include dry mouth (xerostomia) , exposure of root surfaces due to periodontal (gum) disease, chronic medical conditions, radiation treatment for head and neck cancer, physical limitations, and diminished manual dexterity due to stroke, arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease, cognitive deficits due to mental illness, depression, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease), diabetes, poor oral hygiene, multiple medication use, and changes in dietary habits. One or more of these risk factors or life changes, which are more common among older adults, can increase root cavities in an individual who has not had dental cavities for many years.
This Cottonwood dental patient x-ray shows in red where the existing bridge was undermined by root cavities. The yellow shows root cavities on an adjacent crown. Amazingly, this patient’s Cottonwood AZ dentist missed this decay!
Unlike the type of decay that occurs at the top (crown) of the tooth, root cavities occur where the gums have receded (shrunk) away, to expose the root of the tooth.
ScienceDaily (May 19, 2005) – Elderly persons with active root caries, a type of tooth decay, have an increased risk of having irregular heartbeats. This study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.