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Old teeth and tooth decay

Published November 12. 2019 11:11AM

Q. What exactly causes my old teeth to decay?

A. Tooth decay — and gum disease — are caused by plaque, a layer of bacteria. This plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of older people.

In addition, seniors have a greater tendency to get decay around older fillings. And we have more fillings than younger people because we didn’t all grow up with fluoride.

Cavities in the roots of teeth are also more common among older adults, because the roots are exposed when our gums recede. The root surfaces are softer than tooth enamel and decay more easily.

Dry mouth, which is a lack of saliva, promotes tooth decay. Saliva is needed to neutralize the cavity-causing acids produced by plaque. Most dry mouth is related to the medications taken by older adults rather than to the effects of aging.

Q. How common are headaches?

A. More than 45 million Americans suffer from recurring headaches. About 70% of headache sufferers are women.

There are primary headaches that are unrelated to another condition, and secondary headaches. Primary headaches include tension, migraine, mixed headache syndrome and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches include chronic progressive, sinus and hormone headaches.

The Times News Inc. and affiliates do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the author do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Times News. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician.

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