Adult Dental Health Issues

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As you age, you may experience new oral health issues. Some are simply a result of changes in our bodies over time. Some may be influenced by how we care for our teeth over time. Whatever your situation, we are here to help.
As we age our body, including our teeth and gums, becomes weaker over time. It is important for you to know that it is never too late to preserve and protect your teeth and gums. We offer a variety of solutions that allow you to enjoy a healthy and beautiful smile for life.

The following information discusses conditions that tend to affect seniors. Dr. Rich is always here to discuss your personal situation. We can offer ideas and information to help make you comfortable and healthy.

[button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Wear and Staining[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Recession and Dental Decay (Root Surface)[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Loss or Alteration of Taste[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Dentures[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” ex_class=” align-left”]Permanent Tooth Replacement Options [/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” target=”yes” ex_class=” align-left”]Oral Longevity (pdf)[/button]
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Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth is listed as a possible side effect on many medications. Saliva is the natural cleanser of the mouth. It buffers acid produced by the body as well as acid produced by bacteria that cause decay and periodontal disease. Patients with dry mouth are at higher risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease due to decreased saliva. Dry mouth can be exacerbated by ill-fitting dental appliances such as full or partial dentures. Be assured, we offer VERY NICE DENTURES and aim to custom fit your appliances to make you as comfortable as possible.
To combat tooth decay and gum disease when you have a dry mouth, you need to be especially careful to follow good oral hygiene habits. Like all our patients we strongly encourage you to:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day – more preferably, after every meal and before bedtime.
  • Floss your teeth every day.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Visit Dr. Rich at least twice a year for your regular cleaning and exam. At your visit, Dr. Rich may recommend daily use of a fluoride rinse or fluoride gel to keep your teeth healthy.

Certain products are available that can help alleviate dry mouth such as artificial saliva replacement drops, oral rinses such as Biotene mouth rinse and Oral Balance moisturizing oral rinse. Sugarless lemon drops have also been found to be an excellent saliva stimulant that can help increase saliva flow. Beware that most cough drops and mints contain sugar and will cause severe decay if used daily. Drinking water several times a day also improves dry mouth.

[button use_icon=”yes” t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” target=”yes” position=”ta_right” icon=”ec-article”]Do you have dry mouth? (pdf)[/button][vc_empty_space height=”7px”][button use_icon=”yes” t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”” target=”yes” position=”ta_right” icon=”ec-article”]Oral Moisturizers (pdf)[/button]
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Tooth Wear and Excessive Staining

Excessive tooth wear can cause loss of height of teeth which can lead to TMJ pain. With increased wear of teeth over time, many seniors may notice an unaesthetic appearance. Teeth can also stain. Areas where enamel is worn are excellent places for debris and plaque to accumulate and stain over the years. Also, as the protective enamel wears away, the yellowish dentin is more apparent, causing teeth to appear darker. Hypersensitivity of teeth is also common, and causes unnecessary discomfort in patients. We can help.

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Recession and Dental Decay (Root Surface)

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.

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Loss or Alteration of Taste

Many seniors experience a loss of their taste sensation as they age. Sometimes this is a normal result of aging. However, certain diseases and medications can also lead to taste loss. Ill-fitting dentures or other removable dental appliances can increase the alteration of taste. Patients should always notify Dr. Rich if you have any type of alteration or loss in their taste sensation.

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Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

What are the signs of Gum Disease?

The most common cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Bacteria create toxins which inflame and irritate gum tissue. Over the years, a slow progressive detachment occurs that also breaks down the supporting bone. Teeth are no longer held in place by bone, which leads to tooth loss, especially if left untreated.

Causes of Gum Disease

Smoking, poor diet, poor oral hygiene habits, and certain medical conditions and medications can increase your chance of having gum disease. Diabetes, age, and hereditary factors can increase your risk for gum disease as well. That is why it is so important to see us regularly and we can customize a treatment plan just for you. With all oral health issues, regular brushing and daily flossing are your best defense.

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Denture Care

Dr. Rich fits many patients for dentures and helps them care for them. Approximately 40% of older Americans wear full or partial dentures. Many have adapted quite nicely. However, many denture wearers have encountered problems, both emotionally and physically. Some people have trouble eating and some may have repeated sores, which can be quite painful. Ill-fitting dentures can lead to yeast infections of the mouth (oral candidiasis), increased or uneven bone loss and even cancer believed to be from chronic irritation.

When is it time for a new denture?

Over time, tissue and bone shrinks slightly. As this occurs, dentures will not fit as well and will become loose. Denture fit may also change as one loses or gains weight. Dr. Rich can determine if your dentures need to be relined to help them fit better. However, if their bases are too far gone, a new one may need to be fabricated.

As always, even a full denture wearer should visit the dentist on a regular basis to get an evaluation of the palate, tongue, and surrounding tissue for any problems. Sore spots should not be ignored. See us if adjustments are needed. Some people have trouble eating and some may have repeated sores, which can be quite painful. We can help with any discomfort you may experience.

What is the best way to get used to my new dentures?

As with any new appliance, dentures may feel odd at first. They may cause increased saliva flow or they may alter speech. One should start by cutting food into small pieces, avoid hot foods, and avoid hard foods until the tissue (where the denture rests) becomes used to the new teeth. As time goes by, you will become accustomed to them.

Do I brush them like real teeth?

No – dentures should be cleaned, if possible, after each meal. The best way is to remove them and rinse them. If one is able to, brushing the dentures with a wet tooth brush (no toothpaste!) is advised, as well as rinsing the mouth to clean it of any debris. If some natural teeth do remain, we suggest that you brush and floss them as your dentures may be secured in your mouth using your existing teeth. They are more important than ever to care for properly. Always soak dentures at night after brushing them. Over the counter cleaning agents are available. Keeping the dentures soaked protects them from warping. It is also much healthier to keep the teeth out overnight to avoid excessive pressure on the soft tissue and bone. Always remember to brush your tongue and lightly brush the gums with a soft toothbrush. Special denture brushes should be used on the dentures.

Keeping Dentures in Place

For some the best option will be using various denture adhesives. For others Dr. Rich may encourage you to have an implant in order to anchor the denture in place and to make your jaw more comfortable. Talk to Dr. Rich about the best option for you.

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Tooth Replacement Options


Dental implants are a valuable and exciting treatment option for today’s dental patients. They offer a real advantage – a replacement for a missing tooth that looks and feels natural. It becomes incorporated into your mouth and results in a stronger restoration than other tooth replacement options. Implants can be used to replace a single missing tooth, multiple missing teeth, or can be used in conjunction with partial dentures or full dentures to increase retention. If you are averse to wearing removable dentures, implants may be the right choice for you. Unlike a bridge, an implant does not require compromising the adjacent healthy teeth. If you have not been to the dentist in a while, you will be amazed at what can be done to improve your dental health and your smile!

What will happen at the initial consultation?

At your first appointment, Dr. Rich will examine your teeth and determine whether implants are the best option for you. Often, we will take an x-ray to determine the state of your jawbone, as bone is lost if the tooth has been gone for some time. If a dental implant is an option, he can go over what particular type of implant would be best for your situation.

Bridge (Fixed Partial Denture)

Bridges are a natural-looking replacement option for missing teeth. Bridges can be supported by adjacent teeth, by implants, or by a combination of both. The benefits of bridges are that they can fill most gaps, they last a long time with proper care, and they look natural.

Removable Partial Denture

Removable partial dentures provide a prosthetic replacement of one or more missing teeth. It is an option for patients who want to replace teeth for functional or aesthetic reasons, and who cannot have a bridge for any number of reasons (such as a lack of teeth to support bridge). Removable partial dentures have metal or plastic clasps that clip onto supportive teeth, making it more stable. In order to maintain your healthy gum tissue, partials need to be removed at night.

Full Denture

A full denture provides a prosthetic replacement for all of the missing teeth on either the upper or lower arch. Conventional dentures are removable but there are also options for dentures that clasp onto dental implants, allowing for tremendously increased retention. Like partial dentures, a full denture will need to be removed at night to maintain tissue health.

[vc_empty_space][button t_color=”#04bfbf” url=”#denturecare” position=”ta_right”]More information and FAQs on Dentures[/button]