Caries: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications


  • Dietary carbohydrates are metabolized by bacteria into acids which destroy tooth structure.
  • Root caries is common in the elderly.
    • Gingival recession exposes susceptible root surfaces.
    • Root caries progresses rapidly.
  • Left untreated,┬ácaries can cause pain, infection, difficulty eating, and tooth loss.


  • Mild disease is often asymptomatic
  • Pain with eating, temperature change, or spontaneously


  • Cellulitis
  • Abscess


MacDonald, D.E. Principles of geriatric dentistry and their application to the older adult with a physical disability. Clin Geriatr Med 2006; 22:413-434