Dental Education Lecture: When we get old

Mrs. Wilson is 90 years old and lives in a senior citizen house. She takes a lot of medicines. She is in wheel chair; her legs are paralyzed. She comes to my office for extraction twice in ten months  It appears that in so short a period of time, her teeth deteriorate rapidly.  "Do you brush teeth?"  "My hands are alright.  I use electric toothbrush".  With her fragile hands, we wonder whether she can brush the teeth efficiently.  Today we take out two abscessed teeth, broken down to the gum line far in the back of the mouth.  She cries a little bit uncontrollably when we numb her.  Since the infection is pretty severe, we have to numb her repeatedly.  Everything is so quiet during extraction except her hasty rough breathing.  "Please don't die in my chair".  

Occasionally Mrs. Wilson politely asks "have you taken out the tooth?"  We have to keep her updated by saying "honey, sweety, take easy, hang on", not afraid of sex harassment charge. 

Her roots are long.  It seems like that she used to have good teeth.  When we get old, everything goes downhill.  "Who will take care of me then?"

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 11/11/2009, last revision 11/13/2009.