Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Oral Care Need-to-knows for Aging


2
Beware of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is another important consideration for senior citizens and oral care. In a study of Iowans 79 years or older, tooth decay was extremely prevalent -- about 96 percent had some form of oral decay [source: Smith]. The elderly are more prone to tooth decay because of factors like dry mouth, lack of proper dental care and certain medications.

Here's how tooth decay works: Your teeth are coated with a hard layer called enamel. When plaque starts building up on your teeth, the acids in the plaque can start eating away at the enamel. Eventually, a hole will form -- called a cavity. Once you have a cavity, you can't reverse it. The hole must be filled by a professional.

The best way to avoid tooth decay, of course, is to practice good oral hygiene. No matter what your age, you should floss and brush daily, visit your dentist regularly, and use toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is important, as it makes your teeth more resistant to that acid that builds up from plaque.


More to Explore