My mother has recently suffered a fall that has left her cognitively impaired. I’m taking care of her. As it turns out, she has not been taking care of her teeth very well. I took her to the dentist because she was complaining about a tooth hurting. I was a bit surprised to find out that where her tooth was hurting didn’t even have a tooth! It was an empty spot from a tooth she lost many years ago. Apparently, the tooth on the upper arch grew out and has been banging on her gums when she chews where she lost the tooth. The dentist suggested just pulling all her teeth and giving her dentures, but I’m wondering if we can put a dental implant in place of the missing tooth. I would hate for her to lose all of her teeth.
I am sorry about your mother’s fall but definitely glad that she has you there to take care of her. Her situation is complicated. It takes many years for an opposing tooth to broach as far as your mother’s has done. If her dentist would have placed a dental implant there at the time of its removal, that would have been ideal. Unfortunately, that did not happen. With the opposing tooth that far down, there is no room for a new tooth in that spot. You would have to extract the opposing tooth as well. I suspect that has quite a bit of root exposure and will need to come out anyway. Even then, however, there are issues to deal with before dental implants are an option.
Given the state of her oral health, she likely has advanced periodontal disease. This will prevent her from getting dental implants. If she tried, they would fail.
What your mother needs at this point is a full evaluation. While the dentist you took her to is correct that it would be easier to extract all her teeth and give her dentures, it is always better to save as much natural tooth structure as possible.
I suggest you take her for a second opinion. She may very well need full dentures or even a combination of partial dentures, dental crowns, and fillings.
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