“LONG IN THE TOOTH”…WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN?
This popular idiom references how gums wear away in the aging process, leaving the root of the tooth exposed. The tooth root is much softer and more prone to dental decay than the enamel that covers the tooth crown. Dental disease is cumulative over a lifetime, so almost all adults ages 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth. Older adults who take any one of several hundred medications that can cause a decrease in saliva should be especially careful because a lack of saliva brings a much higher risk for tooth decay.