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Dental Problems

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Not sure if this is the correct thread for this post, but would like some advice regarding an elderly aunt that needs dental work, her dental sent her to teaching hospital as they would not do the work on NHS, the reason she was sent to the teaching hospital was because she got osteoporosis and the dentist said it would be better to have some of her treatment there.

Also, she got a very large top bridge which was done many years ago, which she has been told they do not do anymore. She has recurring absences on one of the tooth there and is making it very difficult for and feels sick because of it. The teaching hospital said that they cannot do anything for her about that tooth as it is a teaching hospital. She cannot afford to have it done privately and also does not want to lose the bridge as it will mean that she have to either have top denture which will make her feel sick all the time, or go without top teeth which would be not good for her.

Does anyone know if this type of work will be done on the NHS dental practices and what the cost would be for her. She feels it is because she is a pensioner that they will not do it on NHS, do anyone think she is correct in thinking this.

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  • joyfull
    joyfull Posts: 861 Forumite
    edited 19 February 2013 at 8:31PM
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    You might get a better response if you put this on the health and beauty section of the forum. There are several dentists there who are happy to deal with these questions.

    Do hope you aunt gets it sorted quickly.
    "Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
  • jugglebug
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    The fact that she is a pensioner has nothing to do with anything.
    The practice will provide NHS care or it doesn't
    Unfortunately the NHS dental system is set up to discourage the provision of complex dentistry and it sounds like this definitely falls into that category.
    I don't fancy her chances of getting it done on the NHS I am sorry to say
  • moremore
    moremore Posts: 518 Forumite
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    jugglebug wrote: »
    The fact that she is a pensioner has nothing to do with anything.
    The practice will provide NHS care or it doesn't
    Unfortunately the NHS dental system is set up to discourage the provision of complex dentistry and it sounds like this definitely falls into that category.
    I don't fancy her chances of getting it done on the NHS I am sorry to say

    Thanks Joyful and jugglebug for replies. I was speaking to her last night and she is very depressed about it all. She cannot afford to go private as it could cost thousands according to the NHS dentist and dental teaching hospital told her that we all have to loose our teeth sometime.

    Her alternatives is to have no top teeth if they removed the bridge and surely that will affect her eating as well as her quality of life.
  • seven-day-weekend
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    If she can find an NHS dentist, they may well remove the affected tooth, but I don't think she will get expensive bridge work done on the NHS. They do cater for dentures though, can't she have those? It is nothing to do with her being a pensioner.

    Even NHS work is not free, although considerably cheaper than private.
    (AKA HRH_MUngo)
    Member #10 of £2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
  • moremore
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    If she can find an NHS dentist, they may well remove the affected tooth, but I don't think she will get expensive bridge work done on the NHS. They do cater for dentures though, can't she have those? It is nothing to do with her being a pensioner.

    Even NHS work is not free, although considerably cheaper than private.

    Thanks for reply seven-day-weekend.

    She will have to lose the existing bridge that she has at present, which was done when she was much younger and working if her dentist removed the affective tooth. She could not afford this now on her state pensions. She had denture before the bridgework was done years ago and it made her very ill and could eat with it in her mouth that is why she got the bridge instead.

    Her dentist sent her to a teaching hospital as she got osteoporosis and was worry about the medication that she was taking for that condition.
    She knows that NHS is not free or cheap, but she was willing to paid NHS fees, but none of them are able to the work in their practice on NHS as it would take up too much time and their and the only way they could help her would be for her to go private to have the whole bridge replaced. She been to a few NHS practice and each time they charge £17.00 for a check-up fee. Do NHS practice give a free consolation as all she been to charged £17.00 each time.
  • McKneff
    McKneff Posts: 38,835 Forumite
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    Dentures do not make you feel sick all the time otherwise tens of thousands of people would be feeling sick 24/7. Ive had dentures for donkeys years and I promise that they don;t

    If she only has state pension to live on then she probably would be entitled to free nhs care, so she presumably has more income than you know about.
    make the most of it, we are only here for the weekend.
    and we will never, ever return.
  • moremore
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    McKneff wrote: »
    Dentures do not make you feel sick all the time otherwise tens of thousands of people would be feeling sick 24/7. Ive had dentures for donkeys years and I promise that they don;t

    If she only has state pension to live on then she probably would be entitled to free nhs care, so she presumably has more income than you know about.

    Thanks for reply, however everyone is different and just because you do not get get ill with denture does not mean that she should have the same constitution as you. Unlike you, I cannot speak for the other thousands of people constitutions.

    What I meant is that she is not working now and is on state pension, she would not be able to afford the many thousands of pounds it would cost going private for treatment by private dentists.

    I would not be so rude to asked her what her saving are but I can assure you it would not cover they amount that she would be expected to pay a private dentist for treatment.
  • Toothsmith
    Toothsmith Posts: 10,077 Forumite
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    edited 20 February 2013 at 12:08PM
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    Obviously having not seen your aunt, I cannot offer specific advice about her, but just give as few generals pointers.

    Large bridges were quite the fashion for dentists to provide back in the 70s and 80s. They are obviously 'better' than a denture being fixed in place and do their job very well.

    But although many have lasted for very many years , like all dental treatment, it will ultimately fail one day. The problem then is what to do next?

    When many teeth are tied together, which happens with large bridgework, then the fate of all the teeth included are bound together as well. When one tooth under the bridge fails, then the whole bridge has to be removed, and its only then that you can really see what you've got left to work with.

    It may be that although only one tooth has failed obviously, when the bridge is removed there might well be other things lurking underneath it on other supporting teeth.

    This might well mean that replacement of the bridge is impossible, or presents so much work in the way of repairing the supporting teeth - maybe root filling and the like - that your aunt would not be up to what was required be it available on the NHS or not.

    If so much complex work were necessary, then it could be extremely difficult to justify it at all on the NHS, or even privately.

    It is a lot harder to get used to a denture when you're elderly, but with support and encouragement of people around them, people do manage.

    Irrespective of cost, or who will pay, if a big complex bridge has failed, just the process of replacement might well be more than she wants to go through.


    EDIT If your aunt has osteoporosis, then she'll probably be on one of the groups of drugs known as bisphosphonates. It might have been that the dentist referred her to the dental hospital as one of the side effects of being on these drugs long term is a condition called osteonecrosis when teeth are taken out or sometimes on other complex treatments. This basically means that the bone doesn't heal properly, and is very hard to manage.

    Recently it has been shown to be less of a risk than originally thought if it has only been the tablet form the patient has been on (as opposed to injections). But it's still a good argument for keeping treatment plans as simple as possible.
    How to find a dentist.
    1. Get recommendations from friends/family/neighbours/etc.
    2. Once you have a short-list, VISIT the practices - dont just phone. Go on the pretext of getting a Practice Leaflet.
    3. Assess the helpfulness of the staff and the level of the facilities.
    4. Only book initial appointment when you find a place you are happy with.
  • jugglebug
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    moremore wrote: »
    She been to a few NHS practice and each time they charge £17.00 for a check-up fee. Do NHS practice give a free consolation as all she been to charged £17.00 each time.

    Dental practices have no flexibility with NHS charges. If someone is being treated under the NHS system, they have to charge the appropriate NHS fee. No discounts, No "extras" It's a little like a prescription charge for medicine. Has to be paid or it means the practice are not following the rules set down by the NHS. A Free consultation would be viewed as outside of the NHS entirely.
  • TraySelect
    TraySelect Posts: 99 Forumite
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    I am sorry to hear about your aunt. Teeth problems are some of the most depressing and painful health matters to deal with.

    I needed extensive dental treatment about three years ago. I have to live very, very frugally.

    As well as my NHS dentist, I went to two private dentists for the problems to be assessed, costed and treatment plans proposed.

    I was surprised that the private dentists' estimated costs were not as high as I had been led to believe they might be.

    I had the work done by one of these private dentists, who let me pay in installments as the work went on for a while.

    So, from this experience, I'd always be prepared to ask a private dentist to assess and cost proposed work. But I do understand how hard it is to find the money for this when living on the breadline.

    Good luck to you and your aunt.
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