Rising cases of root caries – are you prepared?

Rising cases of root caries – are you prepared?

GC discusses the widespread issue of root caries in older patients and presents three steps to root caries management.

The 2021 census for England and Wales confirmed that more than 11 million people – 8.6% of the total population – were aged over 65. This figure included over half a million (527,900) who were aged 90 and over.

By 2050, it’s expected that 22% of the European population will be aged 70 or older. 

This steady increase in the elderly population runs parallel to an upward trend in tooth retention into old age. Even today, over 80% of people over 65 retain at least some of their natural teeth.

While longer, healthier lives are something to be celebrated, they also come with their own set of challenges. Especially for health care providers and dental practices.

Oral care for elderly patients used to be dominated by the provision of dentures to replace lost teeth. As elderly patients retain more teeth, they are now presenting with root caries that are impacting their general health and quality of life.

With cases of root caries only expected to rise in the coming years, it is advisable for dental practitioners to prepare. They should ensure root caries management strategies are in place. This includes identifying risk factors early on, preventing them worsening and using minimally invasive techniques for root caries restoration.

Ageing and the increase of root caries risk factors

Ageing increases key risk factors for root caries. Reduced mobility, a decline in cognitive abilities or problems with the mouth and jaw that lead to difficulties eating and drinking, can all have an impact on wider general health. 

With older age also comes the emergence of health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. These are associated with medications that can lead to xerostomia (dry mouth).

The accumulated effects of periodontal disease mean that people experience greater exposure of root surfaces as they age. Once root surfaces become exposed to the oral environment, they are particularly vulnerable to demineralisation – especially when reduced saliva flow diminishes buffering capabilities.

Root caries treatment in elderly patients is challenging. It requires more technically complex dentistry and more need for restorative and preventative materials. GC’s ‘Back to your roots!’ campaign strives to help practices prepare themselves for the expected increase in root caries with a three-step plan for cost-effective prevention and minimally invasive treatment.

Step 1: identify

The first step in root caries management is risk assessment. GC Tri Plaque ID Gel discloses the acidic pH to reveal where bacteria are most active to identify cariogenic plaque. This visualisation of plaque and bacteria also helps educate patients, or their carers, and motivate them to improve their brushing technique.

GC Saliva-Check BUFFER is a chairside test that evaluates the ability of a patient’s saliva to protect their teeth. This helps to reveal underlying factors that disrupt the oral balance and cause demineralisation. 

Step 2: protect and prevent

In cases where saliva levels are low, GC MI Paste Plus can be applied to tooth surfaces. The paste contains bio-available calcium phosphate and fluoride (900 ppm) to enhance tooth repair and relieve sensitivity.

GC MI Varnish is an enhanced fluoride varnish that combines bio-available calcium and phosphate. It provides a strong protective coating to carious lesions, boosts enamel acid resistance and inhibits demineralisation.

For cases of dry mouth and xerostomia often experienced by denture wearers, GC Dry Mouth Gel is a pH neutral gel that provides long-lasting comfort and soothes the symptoms of oral dryness.

Step 3: restore

Restoration alone doesn’t remove the cause of the lesion, therefore restoration should always be combined with preventative strategies to avoid lesion progression. 

For active lesions, EQUIA Forte HT long-term glass hybrid restorative adheres well to root surfaces and is easy to contour. Furthermore, its ion exchange capacity helps prevent demineralisation and stimulate remineralisation.

Fuji II LC light-cured, resin-modified glass ionomer is indicated where controlled speed and ease of use are a priority, particularly for patients who lack certain cognitive or physical skills to fully cooperate.

G-ænial Universal Injectable composite is an ideal option for cases where aesthetics matter and the lesion is non-carious or arrested. GUI is strong and wear-resistant, polishing easily to a high gloss to reduce plaque retention.

Back to your roots!

There is an increasing number of patients whose oral health is dependent upon halting the progression of carious lesions, preventing the development of new root carious lesions and the preservation of the vitality of infected dental tissues.

GC‘s ‘Back to your roots!’ campaign raises awareness about root caries management in an ageing society, placing emphasis on prevention and minimally invasive treatment solutions.

Find out more about GC’s solutions for root caries.

To find out more about GC’s comprehensive range of restorative products, contact GC UK on 01908 218999, email [email protected] or visit gceurope.com.

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