Registered User
May 20, 2004
Aunt was taken to the dentist today (we ended up making a private hospital appointment as she has been waiting for months). The verdict following lots of x-rays was that she has abcesses under almost every tooth and he wants to remove them all.

I wasn't able to go with her but am assured she coped really well and the dentist was wonderful with her (his own Mum had suffered dementia it seems). He talked directly to her at all times knowing her carer would absorb the info - just as it should be but sadly often isn't!

He explained everything and only asked questions requiring yes/no answers as she seems to cope with these most days. She agreed she would have them all removed but he has delayed action for another week to allow her time to change her mind. Both the home staff and ourselves intend to repeat the question just in case we got it wrong.

Has anyone else had to take such drastic action? I know she hasn't got loads of teeth left but it seems draconian? I imagined that abcesses are very painful and if she has so many I thought we would have signs - struggling to eat etc. It is a subject we raise regularly because she struggled with dentures soon after her health took a dive and she will indicate a problem when asked but nothing major.

Maybe the "pain" messages aren't getting through to the brain? Just as we had a spell of near blindness?



On Boxing Day morning, my mother was found by her carer covered in excrement and vomit, and tracks of the same throughout the house. During the night she'd obviously had that serious D&V virus that's doing the rounds.
However, she had NO recollection that she'd been ill for many hours, and shouted at the carer who was trying to get her into the bath and take off her soiled dressing gown, as she believed the carer was accusing her of being dirty. Finally a neighbour managed to persuade her into the bath, and put the soiled clothes into the washing machine.
It scared me that she couldn't any longer recognise the symptoms of serious illness, and that her mental state is now so fragile that she assumed she was perfectly OK. I know that bug has laid people out for four days or more after the sickness and diarrhoea finished, but she was up and about.
So yes, I think the pain receptors can be nuked by dementa, and it's similar to the 'different' neurological wiring in people with autism whose pain threshold is much higher than in the neurologically typical (ie those of us without autism). Some can walk round with broken bones without realising it.
As well as pain thresholds being raised by the progressive brain damage of the disease, those with dementia also have difficulty in communicating, even to themselves, let alone others, that they hurt, and where.
I'm glad that your Aunt is in residential care where at least vigilant attendants may notice that she's feeling uncomfortable.
She'll be a lot happier when the teeth are removed, and the infection alleviated.