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Learn about Root Decay

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Cavities are not just for kids:  more and more adults over the age of fifty are confronted with cavities in the form of root decay.  Root decay occurs when the gums recede and expose the delicate tooth root to bacteria and plaque.  Fortunately, root decay is easily preventable with a good oral hygiene routine and regular visits to the dentist.  Learn more about root decay, how it's treated, and how to avoid it altogether.

Many of us associate dental cavities with childhood, but there is a type of tooth decay that is a prominent threat to middle-aged adults: root decay.  Root decay is common amongst adults over the age of fifty because normal wear and tear can cause a person's gums to recede, exposing a tooth's tender root.  Unlike the outer surfaces of teeth, tooth roots do not have the protective enamel layer that can deflect cavity-causing bacteria and plaque, and so they are highly susceptible to decay.  Tooth root decay is easily treatable if it has not progressed too far, but it can lead to extensive tooth damage and even tooth loss if left untreated.

If root decay has not progressed too deeply, a simple filling may be all that is needed to correct the problem.  However, fillings applied to tooth roots often have a shorter life span than traditional fillings, and may require multiple visits to the dentist's office.  Since a cavity on the tooth root may affect the inner tooth pulp, a root canal may also be necessary.  For root decay that is more advanced, a dental crown or even tooth extraction may be the best solution. 

So how do you prevent tooth root decay?  The best way to prevent root decay (and all forms of tooth decay) is to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine.  This means not only brushing twice daily and flossing once, but also brushing properly: brushing too hard can cause gum tissue to become damaged, which leads to gum recession.  The main cause of receding gums, however, is gum disease.  Gum disease is very common among American adults, but is easily preventable.  In addition to regular brushing and flossing, it is important to visit your dentist twice a year to ensure that gum disease and root decay are not an issue for you.

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