I took my mother in for a filling a couple of weeks ago. She is 87 years old. Today she called me and told me a tooth just fell out. I called her dentist and they want her to come in and they’ll do a dental bridge for her. I’m a bit concerned, though. They didn’t even seem to wonder why her tooth fell out. Will this keep happening? Is there an affordable way to help her?

Presley

Dear Presley,

elderly woman smiling

It is wonderful that you are doing your best for your mother like this. Like you, I am concerned about some of what I am hearing. I want to make sure I understand that you said her tooth just fell out. Is that right? For that to happen, it would mean your mother has very advanced periodontitis (gum disease). It would have to be as advanced as it gets. If this is the case, there should have been intervention quite some time ago. I don’t know what your mother’s dentist has been waiting for.

I don’t like the idea of a dental bridge if this is her situation. A bridge is made by suspending a false tooth between two dental crowns that are anchored to the adjacent teeth. This will put additional stress on those teeth, causing them to fail sooner.

I want you to take her to a different dentist and have her evaluated before moving forward. If it is periodontitis, as I suspect, she is going to lose all of her teeth. Ideally, you’d replace teeth with dental implants. However, she is 87 years old and you asked for an affordable dental solution. In her case, I would suggest extracting the teeth and getting her completely removable dentures.

Normally, I do not like to recommend removable dentures because of the bone resorption. However, at your mother’s age it will not have much of an impact on her.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.