Root caries in a sample of elderly persons.
With the anticipated increase in the aged adult population and the associated gingival recession, the prevalence of root caries is expected to increase. The purpose of this study was to determine the experience and distribution of root caries in a group of aged adults living in Kayelitsha. All non-institutionalized elderly black adults participating in a community geriatric programme were examined. Root caries was recorded using visual and tactile criteria and expressed as the root caries index (RCI) rate. The mean age of the subjects was 65.2 years, the mean number of teeth present was 17.3 and the mean RCI rate was 2.2 per cent. All subjects had gingival recession while only 23.8 per cent had root caries. No surfaces with restored root caries lesions were found. In the maxilla the highest RCI rate was observed on the interproximal surfaces of the posterior teeth (4.4 per cent) but in the mandible the buccal surfaces of the posterior teeth had the highest RCI rate (4.2 per cent). In both the maxilla and the mandible the lingual surfaces of the anterior teeth showed no root caries. Maxillary teeth did not have a significantly higher root caries attack rate than mandibular teeth. Root caries does not appear to be a public health problem in the sampled population.