Caries in Various Age Groups
In early childhood, toddlers can develop rampant caries if they drink formula, milk, or low-pH fruit juice in a bottle or sippy cup right before bedtime. When a child's mouth isn't cleaned before bedtime, the low pH allows the oral bacteria to feed on the sugars in the drink all night long. Demineralization thrives in environments where acid is present to attack the teeth. This process has been termed "baby bottle tooth decay."
Adolescents can be affected too if they drink low pH, high-sugar drinks, like soda, sports drinks, or energy drinks. Adolescent caries present a challenge to dental professionals because they often involve permanent teeth. This condition can affect a teenager's confidence in smiling and socializing and can also cause pain and discomfort that prevents the patient from attending school or work. In adolescents, cavities may be a sign of poor nutrition. Teens can improve their oral health by decreasing the amount of sugar in their diet and picking up healthy habits, such as chewing sugar-free gum, drinking plenty of fluoridated water, and improving their oral care routine at home.
Adults and the elderly can also experience rampant caries, especially those affected by dry mouth. When saliva production decreases due to aging, radiation therapy, or certain medications, the mouth's ability to fight demineralization diminishes because saliva acts as a natural cleaner of the mouth. Dry mouth creates a perfect storm for cavities to appear and progress deeper into the tooth.