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Think Kids are the Ones who Get
The Most Cavities-Think Again

Most people are under the impression that adults don't have to worry much about cavities, because after all, only kids get them, right? Wrong. A recent study in New England revealed that older adults are getting three times more cavities than children do.

Randy Huffines, D.D.S., director of the department of dental geriatrics at the Veteran's Administration Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tennessee, said there are a number of reasons for the high incidence of cavities in seniors.

  • More seniors are keeping some or all of their natural teeth for a lifetime. Over 95 percent of seniors have gums that have receded, or grown away, from the teeth.
  • This exposes tooth roots, so they are susceptible to acid attacks from food, resulting in root decay.
  • Seniors drink less tap water, often opting for bottled or purified water instead, so they don't get the protective benefits of fluoridated water.
  • Homecare is more difficult for older adults, due to manual dexterity problems related to arthritis or physical disabilities.
  • Seniors are often taking medications that reduce saliva flow; saliva is the body's natural defense against tooth decay.
  • Transportation problems keep many seniors from seeing a dentist regularly for exams and cleanings.

If you're an older adult, you can minimize decay and control destructive gum disease by seeing your dentist on a regular basis. She and her hygienist can work with you to devise an oral self-care program that enhances your dental health, and consequently, your overall health! You'll feel better, you'll taste your food more fully and therefore eat better, and you'll be more likely to retain your natural teeth for a lifetime!


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