Believe it or not as a dentist some of the most trying and emotional experiences I’ve had to help with are when people bring in their aging parents to help with their dental problems.
Many things come in to play in these tough scenarios. The parents might have health issues that are contributing to dental problems. Things like dry mouth and the after affects of radiation treatment might leave them with less salivary flow and the resulting cavities. Perhaps they have gone through a period of neglect. Maybe older, extensive dental work is timing out leaving them to have to consider major changes in their teeth. And the toughest of all is when the aging patients might be losing their mental faculties.
How do we handle this?
Same as everything else.
We start with a comprehensive exam to come up with the various options and make sure that everybody understands the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.
No pressure. No judgement.
Once again, same as all patients, we ask if there is a timeline they would like to assume and a budget they would like to stay within.
From here we can come up with the plan that is best for them, based on their values, not ours.
Treatment might range from just a cleaning and a few fillings to a more involved treatment plan.
Quite often their treatment might include removable pieces. We still do a lot of partial dentures and even full dentures for our patients. There are a lot of people that have situations involving lost teeth that prefer these traditional options. Their advantages are dentures. We can restore several areas with one device; they can be done quickly and are usually the most affordable solution.
Whereas they might be less cutting-edged prosthetics there have been many advances in dental dentures. There are softer, more flexible and comfortable acrylics available now. Another huge innovation is the use of digital scans to make even more precise and patients don’t have to go through the uncomfortable impressions.
Of course, dental implants service have been a total game-changer for many patients. From single tooth replacement to restoring one side, an entire arch or the whole mouth. One might be surprised to know how many people in their 80’s and older have felt this was their best option and have loved the confidence, ease, comfort and esthetics. It is not uncommon for us to hear, “I finally got the great smile that I’ve wanted my whole life!”
But I’d like to circle back to the magic that allows all of this to happen. Taking the time to listen to our patients and finding what all their (parents’ and their children’s) needs and wants are and then addressing them.
They know that we take the time to listen to them and value their top concerns. This is the first step in gaining trust and quickly many issues that could have been barriers to treatment will fall like dominoes and suddenly before us we find willing, excited people looking forward to the solutions they’ve been seeking.