Resolve To Care For Your Teeth
Tooth decay is not just a childs problem. Adults of all ages can have cavities, too. The causes for tooth decay are the same for everyone, regardless of age. Decay results when the bacteria in plaque feed on the carbohydrates (sugar and starch) in our diet to produce acids that can cause cavities.
Yet, the nature of the decay problem does change somewhat as people grow older. Adults are more likely to have decay around older fillings, and because many adults grew up without the benefits of fluoride, they may have many more fillings. Decay of the tooth root is also common among older adults. Root caries (decay) occur when the gums recede, exposing the softer root surface, which decays more easily than tooth enamel.
Tooth decay is also promoted by dry mouth. This condition called xerostomia occurs when the supply of saliva is greatly reduced. It can be caused by many types of medications (such as anti-histamines, anti-hypertensives, and anti-depressants) or radiation therapy to the head or neck. Saliva is needed to lubricate the mouth, wash foods away and neutralize the acids produced by plaque. Allowed to continue, dry mouth can lead to rampant tooth decay. If you think you have this problem, be sure to discuss it with your dentist or physician. They may recommend an artificial saliva and fluoride products to help prevent decay.
Gum disease periodontal disease often progresses slowly, without pain, over a long period of time. This is one reason why it is common among older adults. The longer the disease goes undetected and uncontrolled, the more damage it causes to gums and other supporting tissues. Although periodontal disease is caused by plaque, other factors can increase the risk or severity of the condition. These include food left between the teeth, smoking, smokeless (spit) tobacco use, badly aligned teeth, ill-fitting bridges or partial dentures, poor diets and systemic diseases such as anemia.
Although periodontal disease is common, it can be controlled or arrested. In its early stages, it can be reversed. Treatment of advanced cases may require surgery. Look for these warning signs and see your dentist if you notice any of them bleeding gums when you brush; red, tender or swollen gums; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; pus between your teeth and gums when the gums are pressed; loose teeth or teeth that are moving apart; any change in your bite; any change in the fit of your partial dentures; constant bad breath or bad taste.
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