Monday, September 14, 2015

Grandmother A Recluse Because of Missing Teeth

Sep. 14, 2015

Dear Cathy:

I am an only child and my mother and father have passed on and so have my grandfather.  I really look up to my grandmother who has always led a sociable life with many friends around her.  However, over the last few years, she has become a recluse because of the missing teeth in her mouth.  I wanted to help her out but I work on a minimum wage job and she has very little money to live off of.  Is there anything that I can do to help her with her smile. Recluse, Alabama

Dear Recluse:

It’s unfortunate that this has happened to your grandmother but many seniors face this exact same issue.  The first thing that people look at -- when they look at someone -- is their teeth.  And if you have bad teeth, many people will think you really don't have anything of value to say.

Most dentists say you should come in every 6 months for a check up, to at least get your teeth cleaned. However, many people today don’t go to the dentist because it is too expensive and many don’t bother to see if they can afford dental insurance. 

Past studies have shown that half of all Americans over age 30 had bleeding gums.  Over 70% of people today have some type of periodontal issue.  Many people think it's normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss.  

Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria.  If nothing is done, the infection can spread and cause other sickness.  It can destroy the structures that support your teeth in your jawbone.

Eventually, your teeth can become so loose that they have to be extracted and this is what happens in many cases.  Many states do offer some type of free or low-cost dental programs for low-income individuals or for others who receive help through state programs but these programs are extremely hard to find and many have a waiting list -- which is a turn off for most people.

When seniors get ready to buy dentures or false teeth, the more money they can afford, the better their dentures or teeth looks.   It cost anywhere around $2,000 to $3,000 to have a set of dentures or false teeth that doesn’t look false and many people can’t afford that.

All you can do at this point to help your grandmother is to check with businesses that offer dentures and teeth replacements. Many might have a payment plan; Help her check with state offices that might offer FREE or low-cost dental plans, especially the plans through Medicaid and Medicare; and help her start eating better foods, especially organic foods, which affects whether you will come down with periodontal disease in the first place.

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