Caries (Cavity) development in adults

There are many conditions that predispose adults to caries development—and therefore preventive treatment.

In adults, small interproximal restorations (tooth coloured fillings done between two teeth) frequently deteriorate over time and progress to become large cavities, eventually resulting in the need for a root canal and crown (Cap). If xerostomia (dry mouth) or gum recession is present, we will often observe an ominous dark line at the crown margin. This disease progression is irreversible and requires more aggressive treatment. Adults must be consistent with their follow up visits and check-ups to prevent this.

One of the most significant factors in cavity development is exposed tooth root surfaces. While enamel (the outermost layer of your teeth) demineralizes at a pH of 5.5, exposed tooth root surfaces demineralize at a pH much closer to neutral pH6.2–6.7 (water is at a pH of 7). As a result, initiation and progression of root cavities is more rapid. For adult patients, root cavities is an ugly outcome, often having negative effects that are far-reaching.

Adults with xerostomia are a group at risk for rapid progression of caries(cavities). More than 400 medications contribute to xerostomia. Your natural saliva clears away debris and has the capability to buffer acid attacks. Without saliva, enamel isn’t exposed to calcium and phosphate, and remineralization cannot occur.

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