The development of root decay is providing a new challenge for dentists — and for our aging population. Root decay is more difficult to treat than normal cavities — especially if the dental cavity travels under the gum line. Traditionally, dentists treat root decay the same way they treat regular dental cavities. The procedure is not only more demanding, but also less effective, given the fact that root fillings have a much higher failure rate. Tooth filling material isn’t designed to adhere to the tooth’s porous roots; this often results in a shorter life span for the restoration, and multiple visits to the dentist to fix the problem.
As more baby boomers are becoming seniors, and more vulnerable to the issue, the dental industry is finding new ways to battle root decay. Dentists are now practicing less invasive procedures to treat early signs of root decay. Professional, in-office fluoride treatments are often recommended. At-home fluoride use is also important in the fight against tooth decay, and your dentist can prescribe a toothpaste, mouth rinse or fluoride trays as part of your ongoing dental care.
A dental cavity on the root of the tooth has more chances of affecting the pulp, so it’s important to treat root decay before it has a chance to spread. For severe damage or decay found between teeth, your dentist may need to treat the area with a dental crown. Extreme cases may require a tooth extraction followed by a dental bridge or dental implants to replace the tooth. Root decay also increases your chances of needing a root canal.
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
If your gums have receded, you should take measures to prevent root decay. Diets high in sugar will feed the dental plaque-causing bacteria found on your roots, so stay away from sweets! Dry mouth also increases your chances of getting root decay — saliva is needed to wash away food debris and neutralize acid. Without it, exposed roots may be more prone to acid attacks and resulting decay. Drinking lots of water, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugarless gum can help prevent dry mouth.
If you suffer from receding gums or have just reached “a certain age,” regular dental visits allow your dentist to check for tooth root decay. Preventive measures also include gum disease treatment for receding gums that involves using an ultrasonic dental cleaning to remove dental tartar from under the gum line and help to ward off the possibility of gum disease. If necessary, a gum graft can help restore gums to their natural state. At home, soft brushing with fluoride toothpaste will also help keep your gums intact and prevent decay.
With age comes the wisdom to make excellent health choices. And now you have the knowledge you need to take even better care of your teeth and gums to help prevent tooth root decay — at any age.