I’ve heard that dental implants are the best option to replace missing teeth, but we have kind of a unique situation here. My mom didn’t lose her teeth to decay or have them extracted… they just seem to be falling out. She’s 79 and this started about six months ago. When one fell out, we thought it was a fluke. Now she’s had four fall out and the last two were only a few weeks apart. We’ve been trying to decide the best way to replace them. I was originally thinking bridges would work, but they seem to be falling out so quick that I don’t know how long a bridge would last. Dental implants seem to be the better option, but if that’s the case, she’ll need a mouth full of them over time and I’m not sure she’s up for all that. Any suggestions? — Gene
Dental implants are a great option when someone has healthy teeth and gums, but it sounds like your mom may have some pretty serious periodontal disease going on. When periodontal disease advances to the point where teeth are falling out, it’s likely affecting her entire mouth. If it goes untreated, she will probably continue losing teeth.
Your first goal should be to see what you can do about restoring her oral health, or at least improving it. Perhaps a deep cleaning, followed up by more regular professional cleanings can help her maintain what she still has. It’s unclear why she’s struggling so. As parents age, they do tend to have dexterity issues and certain medications can dry out the mouth and cause dental problems. A consultation with the dentist and hygienist about this can provide you with some insights as well as tips for home care and how to go about improving the condition of her teeth and gums.
As far as replacing the missing teeth, dental implants are out because of her periodontal disease. Her teeth probably aren’t stable enough to hold bridges either. That leaves some kind of partial denture as the best option. Given how weak her teeth already are, it’s a good idea to avoid the type of denture that has metal clasps to attach it to remaining teeth. Those are the most common, but some dentists will make another kind that works more like a traditional denture, but with cutouts for her remaining teeth. That way, they don’t have any additional strain on them that might cause her to lose them sooner and, when she does lose other teeth, the dentist can just add a new false tooth to the partial.
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