Learning to Take Better Care of Your Family's Teeth

Three Reasons Why Your Elderly Parent Is Avoiding A Needed Root Canal, And What You Can Do To Help

Root canals are never pleasant, but they are frequently medically necessary. If you have an elderly parent who needs a root canal but balks at the idea, you are in a very frustrating position. Here are three main reasons why your parent may be avoiding a root canal, and what you can do.

Your Parent Fears the Cost

The total cost of a root canal depends on the location of the tooth, type of crown selected, and whether ancillary expenses (like a consultation appointment) are needed. Generally speaking, however, a root canal will cost between $450 and $1,750, so your parent may be resisting a root canal because of the cost. If this is the case, you have many tools in your arsenal that you can use to convince your parent to go forward with the procedure!

If your parent has a dental insurance plan, that plan will likely cover most of the costs associated with a root canal. Medicaid and Medicare may also cover the costs, although your parent must first qualify for this coverage. Furthermore, many dental clinics offer procedures on a sliding scale basis, adjusting the cost to the patient's income. If your parent is retired, this is an excellent option. Finally, look into clinics that offer payment plans. Dentists know that root canals are costly procedures, and are often more than happy to work with you and your parent.

Your Parent Suffers From Dental Anxiety

It is no secret that Americans hate going to the dentist. About 5-10% of Americans have dental anxiety so debilitating that it rises to the level of phobia. If your parent suffers from dental phobia, then your parent will likely avoid scheduling oral health exams (and especially root canals) at all costs--even when this avoidance results in greater mouth pain.

If your parent suffers from dental phobia, convincing that parent to go through with a root canal may seem like an impossible task. One of the most effective ways to convince your elderly parent to get that root canal is by providing transparent and thorough details about the procedure. This includes disclosing the potentially painful side effects of this procedure; your parent will be more likely to follow through with the procedure if you have established that you are not withholding any potentially negative--and surprising--aspects of a root canal.

Your Parent Suffers From a Mental Illness

People who suffer from mental illnesses, like dementia, often simultaneously suffer from poor dental hygiene. If your elderly parent has been diagnosed with a mental illness, that illness may be the reason why your parent is avoiding a necessary root canal.

Unfortunately, if your parent suffers from dementia or Alzheimer's, you may not even be aware of the need for the root canal. Your parent may forget to schedule the procedure or fail to tell you of the need for this procedure. Look for telltale signs of tooth pain, like avoiding meals or rubbing the face; you may need to schedule an appointment on behalf of your parent.

If you tell the dentist that your parent has been diagnosed with a mental illness, that dentist can adjust any anesthetics and medications accordingly. Some mental illness medications have side effects and dangerous interactions with other drugs, so your parent's dentist must be informed of all prescriptions.