As you get older, the incidence for tooth decay can increase, especially at the root surface of your tooth. The exposure of the tooth’s root surface can occur in seniors primarily from gum tissue receding as one ages. Root surfaces do not have a protective enamel layer and are primarily composed of softer cementum, which is more prone to decay. Plaque and bacteria accumulate on these surfaces, increasing the risk for this type of decay, especially in the case of dry mouth as discussed above. Since the root surface lacks enamel, decay can more easily penetrate to the tooth’s pulp (nerve), which can cause endodontic (root canal) problems and, in worst scenarios, tooth loss.