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My mom lost almost all her teeth during Covid. She is 95, confined to a wheelchair and has probably 8 teeth left.
I don’t know if we could even get her into a dental surgeons chair but if we did she would need to have the rest of her teeth pulled and the get fitted for dentures.
She is so embarrassed about her current semi-toothless smile (poor Mom).
I worry that she could wind up in a worse place if she is toothless and finds dentures uncomfortable. Kinda between a rock and a hard place. Advice?

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I had 1 tooth pulled for an implant and it was painful afterwards, plus I had to be on antibiotics and stay on a special soft, bland diet until it healed. I can't imagine having 8 teeth pulled and also the risk of infection. As well, your mom would have to have enough bone mass in order to even be able to have dentures. Have you actually asked a dentist if they'd even be willing to do this on a person your mom's age, and possibly with dementia? Maybe start there.
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It's traumatic to get teeth pulled out, first of all, especially lower teeth b/c the lower jaw bone is much stronger & thicker than the top.

Getting used to a top denture is VERY difficult; it takes 6 weeks of a LOT of pain and constant visits to the dentist so he can file down the plastic on the denture (where it rubs on the gums) for a better fit. Where it rubs, it creates sores that are killer. So it's very very hard to eat anything but pudding and yogurt for 6 weeks.

If she needs both and upper and a lower denture, that's like a true nightmare b/c the bottom denture moves around a lot.

Even the top denture never fits quite right. So it's a constant battle to find the right amount of denture cream that will work to keep the damn thing in place. Too little and it falls out. Too much and it's seeping down the back of your throat and making a mess. Powder doesn't create enough of a cushion. Powder AND cream is best, most of the time, but not for everyone.

Needless to say, dentures are a true nightmare to get used to for an average person, never mind a 95 y/o woman who may have cognizance issues, who may lose them, break them, and God knows what else. Just the trips to the dentist's office for fittings ALONE would be enough of a reason to nix the entire idea. My mother only has a few teeth left in her mouth, and she is VERY vain at 94, but there is no way we're doing ANY unnecessary dental work in her mouth these days. The last fiasco was the mobile dentist coming into her Memory Care to do a 'surgical extraction' of a WISDOM TOOTH (I kid you not) and it cost $1000 after it was all said & done! Just today she again told me how she lost a 'little tiny baby tooth' while she was eating, meaning she lost a PIECE of the remaining molar in her mouth, and I said 'gee that's unfortunate mom.' Until & unless she's in pain and complaining, I will not be calling the mobile dentist back again.

Leave your mom alone with her 8 teeth and encourage her to get used to eating soft foods, that's my recommendation. I wouldn't wish a denture on my worst enemy!

Good luck!
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MaryPA Apr 14, 2021
Thanks. When I spoke with the denture person and her doctor they both seemed to think she would be fine but I am not convinced and don't want to send her down a rabbit hole that we can't climb back out of.

Gosh, this is hard!
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My mother will be 89 in June. I finaly got to spend time with her last week after a year of virtually no contact. Her dementia is exponentially worse. She told me she graduated high school 2 weeks ago. About 1 month ago the NH called to say she had a toothache. Her teeth have been crumbling and falling out for several years due to chain smoking, soda and eating sugar nonstop. My sister in law is a nurse who had the same problem with a relative several years ago. She took her relative to a Dentist who was a long time friend. His response was it would be very painful to remove all her teeth and at her age/dementia dentures were probably never going to fit without pain and she would probably not wear them anyway. He suggested to just make sure she didn't have pain or infections and to leave the teeth she had left alone.
I couldn't take my mother to a dentist. She is dual incontinent and taking her anywhere would cause confusion. I found a mobile dentist! Great...not. her Delta dental doesn't cover mobile dentist. I was told most dental insurance doesn't. I asked them to check her tooth and if needed antibiotics asap. She had 3 abscess. They came back with a *Dental plan* to remove all of her teeth and fit her for dentures for 15,000.
I said no, remove the abscessed teeth and make sure she had antibiotics and anything she may need for pain. She could never have implants because her bone is like swiss cheese.
I can't imagine putting an elderly person through the pain and then months of waiting for their mouth to heal before having dentures fitted ☹
Hopefully my story helps you with your decision what ever that may be. I feel for you. This caregiving stuff isn't for sissy's. Xo
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disgustedtoo Apr 13, 2021
We be gladly fitting your mother for dentures for a hamburger today... plus $15k! Seriously? I would have rather dealt with the inconvenience and confusion than let this dentist touch my mother!

Even going to an unfamiliar dentist can be detrimental. MANY years ago, while at their place in FL for the winter, mom went to some dentist down there. No idea what the issue was or why she didn't question anything or get another opinion (she did NOT have dementia back then and usually didn't jump to get things done that were recommended!) They pulled at least FOUR teeth. She often talked about getting implants or something, but never followed through. By the time dementia was starting, she hadn't seen anyone in a while, so I took her to my dentist for a cleaning and exam, right down the road from where she lived then. Between hearing and early dementia, they kept coming to me to ask questions (I was getting work done at the same time.) Turns out she had cavity under one crown - they have to remove the crown, fix the tooth and make a new crown. She couldn't quite get it. Funny thing is when the bill came she was horrified! Never mind that she insisted they just poked around and didn't clean her teeth - I know they did, she would just forget. Her extra insurance provided a very small amount for dental, so in her thinking she's paying a lot of money for nothing! Next time I told the hygienist to take pictures. She tells me I did plenty poking around, she'll know. Nope. The door to the office wasn't even closed when she announced they did nothing!
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As a retired dental hygienist with over 30 years in the field, I would say no.
My dad wore upper and lower dentures since he was in his 30’s with no issues. Then when he lost some weight they didn’t fit as well. This was when he was 97. Like a dummy I held out hope that he would tolerate new ones. But no!! He would not wear them because they hurt and it basically changed his bite enough that he couldn’t get used to them. So he went back to his old ones. Fast forward 2 years, he lost his lower at LTC when they threw it away with his dining tray. And then his upper became very loose from continued weight loss. By then he was 98. So we took him to a specialist to get the upper relined for a better fit. Dad had dementia and was an awful patient! Then once he got back to the NH he ripped out the temporary reline and ruined all that work. After that my sister and I said NO MORE dentures or dental visits.
I can’t speak for how your mom will tolerate it but she is awfully old to try to get used to dentures. It takes many visits for adjustments to get them to where that don’t rub sore spots and for the patient to eventually toughen up the gum tissues like a callous. With dementia, She will have it even harder. Quite likely she will refuse to wear them. They are expensive and I would hate for you to have $3000 bookends like we had with my dad's new dentures.
The dentist who said it would not be an issue has likely never dealt with someone with dementia and the aftermath as well as the stress this will place on you.
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Geaton777 Apr 14, 2021
That's how my 90+ aunt in MC lost hers: she rolled them up in her napkin after dinner and they got thrown away with everything else on her tray.
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Is she living with you at home? Or is she in a facility?
oral care is SUPPOSED to be done daily in a facility and hopefully it is done daily at home. Oral care after extracting the teeth she has, open wounds in the mouth will be difficult and painful.
Will she be bothered by the wounds. Will she try picking at her mouth?
She will probably have to have a general or possibly twilight anesthesia and it may take her months to recover from that.

All these factors was a driving force behind my decision to not have dental work done for my husband. Not to mention I could not get my Husband to be compliant with the dentist.
*is your mom actually embarrassed or is she picking up on your feelings?
and another side note if you add up all the posts and comments about dentures that get lost, tossed out, misplaced, stolen both at home and in facilities I wonder if dentures are worth the trouble. As well as properly putting them in and caring for them daily. And they have to be put in daily so they continue to fit correctly
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My mom was in assisted living. She was 85, slight dementia. I was managing her and dads care from out of state. The facility sent her to a nearby dental clinic who wanted to pull her remaining teeth and have her fitted for dentures. There was no infection or problem at the time other than a couple jagged edges on broken teeth.

I was able to get her in with her old dentist in a nearby town. He was with her for 10 minutes, ground off a couple edges. Done. He was horrified that this dental mill wanted to put her through oral surgery and dentures.

Mom died a few months later. I’m so glad I didn’t let them put her through that process. She would have spent the last month of her life in misery.
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I would definitely take her to a dentist to find out why she lost so many teeth. Something is up and may be a serious infection or other problem. May have been a long term problem building up due to lack of dental care. Should be checked out to get any problem (other than missing teeth) addressed.

Even at 95, she can benefit from dentures if she doesn't have other issues that would prevent her from sitting in the chair or having dental work done. When you take her for the check up to find out why all the teeth fell out, both of you can discuss with the dentist. A good dentist should be able to fit her well with dentures, but dentist is best person to evaluate.

By the way, my mom is 97 and still has all of her own teeth! Dentists still find that remarkable. Her mom still had all her own teeth at 102! They both always took good care and went to dentists regularly. All my siblings are the same - lots of dental visits over the years.
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Reply to my2cents
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Ask a dentist to visit your mother and advise her on what's possible.

If the existing teeth are sound, they might not have to go. I see partial dentures of all sorts.

It may be that there really isn't any such species in your state as a dentist who does outreach, home assessments, community or home-based appointments - but if you haven't checked, do check. There are some services we never knew existed until we couldn't go out, and our county's peripatetic dental service was one of the best.

Start with your mother's own dentist, though, and ask. If they don't do this perhaps they'll know who does.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I had an uncle who was a tough old bird. He was just wanting to eat steak again, so he had implants put in at age 93. He could afford it, as they are incredibly expensive. He did get to eat his steak. Not a solution for everyone, but it can be done. Maybe your mom wouldn't need every single tooth implanted...just a few "strategic" ones? Just a thought. FYI if your mom's on Medicaid, you may find it difficult to even find a dentist to work on her. Many don't even accept Medicare. I'm not on Medicare yet but my dentist won't even look at you unless you have dental insurance.
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jacobsonbob Apr 12, 2021
Will your dentist accept private pay?
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My 81 yo hubby has a full upper plate since about 1985. With his medical issues these past 3 years, his bottom teeth started to fall out. I found a geriatric dentist who looked at him and determined his remaining 10 bottom teeth needed to be extracted and a full lower denture made.
He had the extractions with no problems, and wore a "healing " lower denture for 9 months. He was able to eat meat, chicken, bacon, ribs, without issue. He now has his new top and bottom dentures and is happy with them. The only issue is he gets confused about when to put them in and when to take them out. But since he's confused about night and day anyway, its no big deal.
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disgustedtoo Apr 13, 2021
It sounds simple when you describe this, however he was long used to having a denture and is a bit younger than OP's mother. Given what others have said along with OP's profile giving her mother's condition, I wouldn't recommend dentures or tooth extractions (only if there's infection/absolute necessity.)
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