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Is she in pain?
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I understand your mom's reluctance but what is she going to do if infection sets in? Did she ask the dentist how long she can put it off? Personally, I detest root canals and the outrageous cost even more so, but once infection sets in, it can be bad for a person's overall health.
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Yes, an infection in the mouth can lead to heart problems and death...
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What about just having it pulled? That would be less invasive and still take care of the problem. I hope it all works out.
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I was writing... she is pretty good physical condition, but mentally not too clear, so she asks to see a dentist for a cavity she can 'feel' The dentist took a whole series of xrays and found the root canal issue. She still says she wants to go to the dentist for a cavity, but not for any pain yet.
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Where is the problem to located? Would pulling it leave a visible gap or affect her current dentures if she has them? My mom lost a lower front tooth from biting a sandwich of all things. That bothered her for a long time because she could see it was missing and she thought it looked bad. Eventually, she didn't care very much about it. Later she complained of pain in lower left molars and had to take both of them out. She was no longer able to wear her dentures which completely changed what she was able to eat. She was 93+ at that time and we decided she couldn't handle all the fussing and the fitting, etc. that would be required to get new dentures.

If decide that pulling is the best option, be sure to consider an oral surgeon to do the job rather than a dentist.
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I found a 3rd opinion dentist, we go tomorrow. Also, I had to go thru all her past dental records [while she lived alone] and found out she she has been to 2 other dentists and her tooth issues go back to 2004. I learn more and more about my mom everyday [she told me a story abt a horrible dentist visit when she was a young girl] I guess this is my turn to help her out with her 'fear'
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daisy - I reviewed and realize that you haven't said where is the problem tooth is located and I think it's because my question but somewhat truncated and you didn't see that I asked that question??

If the offending toith is not in a visible place, getting it removed by an oral surgeon maybe the best solution and a lot easier on your mom then having a root canal. The purpose of a root canal is to conserve the to sit in that space and all of it needs a crown as well. Not only very costly but a lot of sitting and oral manipulation for a person with dementia. It will be interesting to hear what the third opinion dentist has to say. Please give us an update.
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At 91, I would encourage her to have it extracted. A root canal is not pleasant for a younger person let alone someone at the age of 91, also.. they are very expensive and dentists want the money!
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great advice. I really did not know that extraction is an option. I have been giving her a special germ killer to use for a month or two, as I know that the infection can spread to the heart. She has been very stubborn about the dentist, since 2004.
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I work in the dental field and I agree with having it pulled verses root canal treatment. During a root canal they remove the nerve and then the tooth becomes brittle therefore needing a crown. At age 91 I would probably opt for extracting the tooth when it becomes painful. There is a dental office on every corner and alot of them go above and beyond for the money. And I wouldn't let an oral surgeon put her under for that. The lidocaine is what gets rid of the pain during the extraction.
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I would get it extracted especially at her age. Root canals are at least 2 grand and you end up loosing the tooth anyway because the pulp is completely gutted out.

Dentists are a lot like chiropractors........they will always tell you that you need more than what is necessary.........this is how they keep you coming back and spending money. It's your business they need.

A simple extraction can be done by a regular dentist for about sixty to a hundred and twenty dollars. At 91 years old, I can't imagine anyone still being vain.

Try to make a decision based on basic economics and practicality.
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She's put this off for 9 years. She really can't be blamed but whatever happens, it isn't your responsibility.

Your reference to a "germ killer" is kind of obscure. Are you using something Rx or OTC, or something alternative like tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract? Or something else? I would appreciate knowing.

I know you are seeing another dentist, good, just know that if her roots are good enough for a root canal, they are strong enough to be removed properly by an oral surgeon and not pulled by a dentist, so just please beware.

I've been explaining about homeopathic arnica pre- and post- surgically to my clients for over 45 years. Some (good) Plastic Surgeons have been recommending it for about 10 or 15. I suggest you look it up. My preferences 6X but sometimes you can only find 30X which is OK. Remedies are non-toxic and never interfere with prescription or OTC medicine. By all means, consult with your moms dentist or oral surgeon. If they don't know about it, most just shrugged and say you can try it if you want but it doesn't work. If you get that level of approval, please consider using it as it will make your moms extraction less traumatic and faster healing. It is also naturally antiseptic. My email is on my profile page; please write me directly or post on my wall if you need more information.
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CarolLynn, would you please stop using the voice recognition feature and just type your responses? Going back to correct your mistakes with another post is rather, well, annoying.
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For daisy - I agree with Sylvia about the brittleness of the tooth following a root canal and the need for a crown after the fact. Not only costly but a lot of sitting still and oral manipulation of a dementia patient. Any dentist suggesting such a procedure for your mom is out for the money.

But Sylvia, I still recommend going to an oral surgeon because that does not mean being put out with general anesthesia. My mom was 93 when she had to have 2 left lower molars removed. We knew from past history that she had little hooks on her roots so we opted for an oral surgeon who could address the careful removal without damage to her jawbone, nerves or blood vessels. I would never suggest anesthesia for any elder person unless there is no other way. My mom had a hip replacement at 85 and a knee replacement at 87 and both times had only local anesthesia plus demerol twilight sleep because the anesthesiologist felt that general anesthetic has the potential to contribute to dementia in seniors.
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Persie - I am sorry you find my corrections annoying. I guarantee you that they are just as annoying to me to have to do them. While I consider it an honor to be able to post on this site and share my long-term experience with caretaking, I am disabled and cannot at this time in my life sit up at my computer and type from a keyboard. I am only able to use my android phone and the little touch pad is impossible for me to type from. The space allowed for the input box and the type font are fairly small. I make the best effort I can but because there is no edit before posting feature, I sometimes do not find all of the voice recognition errors before I post. I have only had the ability to use this phone for a few months and I am striving to be better at it. Be assured, I am doing the best I can and will continue to improve as time goes on.
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Fyi.. I have spent over $40,000 dollars on my teeth (no insurance) I have had over 10 root canals and just as many crowns, I have also been to an oral surgeon and it should be known that I was charged over $100 just for the consultation.. specialists are very expensive. I would go to a general dentist first, have him x-ray the problem tooth and he will be able to tell you if he can do the extraction or not. Most general dentists can do extractions unless they are wisdom teeth. The fewer dentist visits for a 91 year old the better!
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Macada,

I can't imagine spending that amount of money on teeth of all things.......you could buy a car or a down payment on a house with that kind of money or take that money and invest it wisely. To me that would be a much better investment but that is just my opinion.

I chose partials, upper and lower verses root canals, dowel posts and crowns that aren't even guaranteed to stay put anyway. Am I embarrassed that I have partials at 41? Absolutely not, they work just fine for me. I just tend to be very practical.
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clh777.. my teeth have been an investment over my lifetime, there is nothing like real teeth. The money I have spent has been over a 30 year period not all at once. I have paid off the mortgage on my condo and I have never driven so I don't need a car, so I put my money where my mouth is. I don't drink or smoke, I have a nice smile and I can chew any foods I want. When you say I could have invested that money wisely that is an individual opinion because I do feel I invested my money wisely. Regardless, my point was that a consultation with an oral surgeon is very expensive and probably not necessary.
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Dentists will all want to do a root canal. Get an opinion from an Oral Surgeon, because he will do an extraction, which is a lot less fuss and expense.
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a general dentist will do an extraction as well, especially for a 91 year old, it would almost be unethical if they were able to and didn't.
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My dentist may be able to, but he always refers me to an oral surgeon for extractions.
They are painless and quick.
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pstiegman.. with all due respect I am assuming you are not 91. There is nothing painless about paying $100 for a consultation with an oral surgeon, especially for someone who is on a fixed income. I have had 3 wisdom teeth extracted by a general dentist and it was equally as painless as the one extracted by the oral surgeon but a lot less expensive.
I'm sure daisy001 will make whatever decision she feels is best for her mum.
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macada - you have certainly had a measurable amount of experience in the dental world. And of course daisy will make the best decision for her mom. But your experience with dentists in oral surgeons has not been the same as mine. For one, you assumed oral surgery meant being put under anesthesia. Not true. Second, you were charged a consultation fee and that seems to be your main objection to an oral surgeon. Besides this last incident when my mom was 93, I had accompanied her on several occasions two different oral surgeons in 3 different cities. In each case she was seen by a dentist first who referred her to the oral surgeon. There was never a consultation fee from the oral surgeon. Also, this last time when my mom was suffering from dementia, I can tell you that the oral surgeon's office is a lot more peaceful with your patients being shuffled about and when my mom experienced anxiety, they were immediately and professionally prepared to calm her with nitrous oxide. Not only that but because their office was not overly crowded with patients, and because of my mothers anxiety, they were able to permit me to sit within 5 feet of my mother where she could see me and at Remax her considerably. 3 different dentist in my area have said they always referto an oral surgeon for tooth removal especially in elders to avoid complications of nerve damage or crumbled root left in. So I guess that's been the same experience as pstiegman with her dentist as well. Ms. daisy I'm sure will consult with the proper professionals and make the right decision for her mom.
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CarolLynn.. first of all, I'm not sure what you meant by a "measurable amount" of experience in the dental world, I have had a great deal of experience in the dental world not only for myself but my occupation for almost 30 years has been geriatric care. I have taken many elderly people for dental visits. Secondly, please show me where I stated that "I assume oral surgery meant anesthesia", I really would like to know where I said that. I have had 4 teeth extracted and none of them have been under anesthesia, including the one by the oral surgeon! Perhaps we live in different countries and our dentists determine things differently!
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Took mom to dentist today. He took new xrays and she has one cavity and 2 crowns that he says should be taken off and the roots cleaned. We booked apt for the cavity.When I asked him abt extracting the crowned teeth he said it is too traumatic for a 91 year old. I am still not sure what to do. Maybe wait till she has pain?
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hey daisy.. if crowns are taken off a tooth that means that a new crown has to be made and cemented on (between $1,000 and $2,000 ), I have never heard of taking a crown off to clean roots? They can even do a root canal through a crown. Perhaps you should wait until she has pain.
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macada - I thought measurable was an adequate word, after $40K, would a significant experience have described it better?

And l apologize for confusing the anesthesia comment with you when it was actually Sylvial who mentioned that.
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I'd get the root canal done, extractions can cause tremendous problems especially for someone her age, the blood loss and hole in her gum would be bad news imo. Dentistry today is much better than it was when she was a kid, get it all numbed up and do it, but then I would say a crown is inorder. When you look at it this way, her teeth allow her to enjoy her food, and since older people have issues as it is with eating, I would do what is needed to keep her chewing her food, she could live to over a 100, you just don't know and bad teeth and gums, well they cause all sorts of health problems, a tooth loss could shift her whole jawline.
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The alternative to a root canal , a common endodontic procedure, is extraction.
I would opt for the root canal, without knowing the patient, nor the history of the teeth, she should choose the root canal first. Just my opinion.....unless it is tooth numbers 1,2, 15,16,32,31, the last molars ( wisdom teeth). No need for wisdom teeth now.
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