My 90 year old mothers teeth are rotting out of her head and refuses to go to the dentist. Any suggestions to get her to go? - AgingCare.com

My 90 year old mothers teeth are rotting out of her head and refuses to go to the dentist. Any suggestions to get her to go?

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Her diet is horrible; she basically eats sweets/baked goods all the time. In the last few months three of her front teeth have broken off. I suspect that they are full of cavities and that’s why they’re breaking off.
She is willing to go to all of her other doctor appointments without too much reluctance, she’s scheduled for cataract surgery in March, she has congestive heart failure that requires her to have a cardiologist visit every 6 months, etc. But she refuses to go to the dentist.
I called her dentist, it’s been going on 3 years since her last visit, they are adamant about getting her in, but she won’t budge.
Is it vanity/embarrassment, or is it a sign of early dementia? I’m looking to change her primary care physician, as she never seems to discover any of the real problems when my mother visits.
My biggest fear is that her gums may become infected.
Is there a way to force someone to go to the dentist?
Thanks for any suggestions.

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I can't tell you how to get your Mom to the dentist but I can say that rotting teeth and bad gums can be dangerous. My Dad got sepsis last year and they believe it was because of his teeth. He almost died and the damage from the sepsis has debilitated him permanently. So yes it is a big risk to ignore dental problems.
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Rugged, if you do manage to get mom to the dentist have only the minimum work done so she can eat and is healthy. At her age it doesn't make sence to have cosmetic or complicated bridge, caps, 6 visits etc. My moms dentist has been great. He builds up tooth stumps so she can eat, keeps an eye out for infection and keeps things as simple as possible for her.
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Hi Ruggles, I am guardian of my aunt who has severe senile dementia. I used to think that was an old term...but it unfortunately still applies. Sadly, we were having the same issues similar to yours. She is in an assisted living facility, so I try to keep us all on the same page regarding her health. As for her teeth, which were atrocious, I would set up the appt., fill them in on her demeanor (biting, scratching, hitting...so sad) and what works for me and how to go along with me when we get there. They are ALL my best friends from high school ( so she is more apt to trust them) I smile, sing to her, keep her focused on me until they knock her out. But before we go, I tell her we are going out to her favorite restaurant for lunch...once we arrive at the dentist office, I run in quickly while the attendant is wheeling her into the office, and remind them that they will all be getting hugs from me and to just follow my lead. I, in turn tell my aunt that we are stopping to visit my girlfriend quickly and will be on our way to eat shortly. Once I get her in the chair (she will only let me touch her...very sensitive and yells and screams if anyone else does it) I tell her my gf wants to look at her feet ( always the feet...and she's good with that, thank goodness), I sing to her her favorite song, they start the I.V, knock her out and an hour or so later it's complete...and she's none the wiser. Each moment is a new moment for her. She won't ( doesn't ) remember any of which transpired. So grateful for that...then it's back to assisted living. We never do go out to eat, because I never know what she might be apt to do. Upsets quite easily..I've been smacked a few times, no biggy...I know that it is the disease...not my aunt any longer. Just a thought for you...oh, and I had to find a specialist that deals with dementia, cerebral palsy, special needs children, etc. Well worth every minute to have her teeth done by professionals that deal with it day in and day out. Hope this helps...Good luck to you and God bless!! :)
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Ruggles, Tell your mom not to worry what the dentist will think of her teeth, because he/she already knows. Tell her that her mouth is nothing earthshaking that the dentist hasn't seen a hundred times. Make sure she knows that it won't hurt her because she can be sedated so that she won't care what they're doing in her mouth. Be sure that you've had her blood checked for infections that she may have already gotten as a result of her mouth decay. Take the worry and embarrassment about going to the dentist out of the equation and she'll probably go.
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Also make sure your cardiologist and any other specialist you see is Board Certified in their specialty.
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That cardiologist! Always bear in mind that the person with the lowest gpa from the worst medical school is...a doctor. There are great doctors and there are horrible ones. If a doctor provides your mom with questionable care, don't hesitate to look for another one. She is entitled to quality care!
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Try and get her teeth taken care of before the cataract surgery. You don't want her eye to get infected and she will have mobility restrictions after the cataract surgery for a while.
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I won’t know about the type of arthritis until next Tuesday. Her doctor did say it seemed like it wasn’t symmetrical, so he doesn’t think it is rheumatoid.

Veronica, I agree that at 90 years old, and in the advanced stages of CHF, opening up more cans of worms is probably just going to make her last years more miserable.

I like your suggestion about the dentist, will mention it to him when I call next week.

She actually wants to do the cataract surgery, and she got the referral for the appointment with the rheumatologist from her PCP on her own.

Over the years I’ve noticed she likes to cherry pick the things she wants to have done, she had this pre-cancerous growth on her forehead that she wouldn’t agree to have removed. I forced her to have it removed, which improved her appearance so much, and prevented another possible health issue.

It must have also made her feel a little bit more self-confident.
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CM some he'd just as soon not see too! I'd rather clean the poop than the teeth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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But this is what makes me so CROSS! - "The x-ray technician said to her in an authoritative, but not sadistic, way, "I know this hurts, but you’ve got to do this so we can get a picture of your hip; that’s what you’re here for.”

Of course what she said was true, but there are ways and ways of helping the patient get into the right position. I just wish they'd take a little extra time and a lot more trouble to go gently with elderly people.

Veronica, asking the dentist to make her feel like an important patient - "He was so worried about me he called specially!" - and reassure her about her visit is a BRILLIANT idea. Hope the dentist will play ball: he'd have new patients queuing round the block, well worth his trouble!
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