Cavities are a common condition affecting over 91 percent of Americans. Root caries or decay present a form of cavities more prevalent amongst the elderly. Root caries (cavities) is a condition in which there is decay at or below the gum line. There are several contributing factors that lead to this dental condition. Normally, our gums protect the tooth surface area below the gum line. But when gums pull back and recede, this leaves the tooth susceptible to decay in the central portion of the tooth or on the roots. Gum recession which can be caused by grinding or brushing too hard leads to sensitivity. Root caries can look like a discolored or stained area right above the gums or a notched out surface that the tongue can feel. It is visible upon pulling the lips and cheeks away from the teeth and examining the gums.
The tooth nerve (pulp) that feels tooth pain lies in the root. Bacteria is present in root caries, and can reach the pulp if it progresses deeply. If root caries spreads down the root of the tooth and reaches the pulp or affects the tooth area below supporting bone, it can cause a dental infection, a severe toothache, or even cause a tooth fracture.
One of the best ways to prevent caries is by using a high fluoride toothpaste like Prevident 5000. It has the ability to remineralize the tooth, help the tooth regain hardness, and slow down the progression of caries. Another way to prevent root caries is using an electric toothbrush. This helps people who tend to brush hard because it reduces the scrubbing or rubbing off of hard enamel. Brushing too hard can weaken the tooth close to the root. Use a mouthrinse with fluoride such as ACT fluoriguard and drink plenty of water. Acidic beverages and brushing right after ingesting something acidic wears on enamel. This can lead to tooth or root caries.
To treat root caries, a glass ionomer tooth filling may be needed. Glass ionomer fills release fluoride and reduce tooth sensitivity. In cases where the root cavity is extensive, a crown or root canal treatment may be necessary. If the cavity is beyond the bone around the tooth, the tooth must be removed(extracted) to prevent an infection.
Here at Museum Smiles, we provide you with preventive and comprehensive oral health care. Our office is located within minutes of downtown Fort Worth. Contact us to schedule a dental appointment.