Gettin' Mom Some Teeth
May 25, 2016 3:43 PM   Subscribe

My mom's in dire need of a dental makeover. She's 82 and over the last few years her teeth have really suffered - broken, fallen out etc. She stopped seeing her dentist a few years back because of what appeared to be egregious billing and a ridiculous $43,000 proposed dental plan for her. She's not in pain, but she's got some serious gaps and chewing problems. Problem is, neither of us can afford to get her fixed up. Other than DIY dental implants, maybe you have an idea or two....?

Seriously though, we need to work out a way to get her in a better situation. We're looking at around $20K to get her in a good place. She owns her home entirely, and could certainly get a home equity loan. But she's on a fixed income and could scarcely afford payments on a $20K loan. I can afford to help a small amount... but not a lot.

Is there a sort of loan that would put off the payment start date for a long time (a decade?) - essentially so that her payment could come from when she sells the house, or from her estate? Of course, lots more interest, but does such a loan exist?

Other ideas? I've looked online, and there are plenty of sites offering "resources' and help for seniors in various ways... but almost always not truly what they promise. Most seem kinda scammy.
posted by ecorrocio to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If there's a dental school nearby, she could get the work done through their clinic. Also, your city's public health department should offer dental care for seniors or people with low incomes, assuming she has a low income.

As for loans you don't pay back for a long time, there are those reverse mortgages. I don't know anything about them.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:51 PM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Came in here to suggest the dental school route. A few years ago we were volunteering with some extremely low-income folks and ended up taking them to the dental school down in SF for some work, and aside from some extreme anxiety issues (which was related to the low-income) that we had to delicately work through, it worked out well.
posted by straw at 3:57 PM on May 25, 2016

Here, in IL medicaid includes dentures. You should not be denied medicaid for having a home you live in.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:57 PM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

A few family members have dentures and they seem fine with going that route. I know one got a nice set for about $6000. And this is in Illinois.
posted by foxhat10 at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe getting a second opinion is worth looking into. Multiple implants in someone over 80 isn't always possible or a great idea, depending... it's been a few years since your mom's been seen, things may have changed. Some dentists are committed to finding medically acceptable, affordable compromises (e.g., dentures, and/or another solution, might be cheaper and less invasive and risky, depending on your mom's bone (and general) health).
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:01 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're still in Centennial and looking for a second opinion, Dr. Ric Olson in Littleton is an excellent dentist and is really straightforward and honest, the type of dentist who tells you that you only need to floss the teeth you want to keep. :)
posted by jabes at 4:22 PM on May 25, 2016

Carecredit doesn't care about your credit rating, they'll sign you up right away and work out a payment plan. I used to work in a dental practice that catered to low-income patients, and EVERYBODY signed up for Carecredit.

Also look into Aetna's Vital Savings plan. It's not dental insurance, but it's a plan where if you go to certain dentists you can get a substantial discount on various services.

I've used both companies and they've done just what they'd said they'd do, with no shenanigans.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:43 PM on May 25, 2016

As a dentist, I can tell you that it's a real challenge making a treatment plan for patients who are elderly. Folks are living a long time, so it's reasonable to want a patient to have work that is going to last, but this can often mean it's expensive. the other side of the coin is to extract teeth and replace them, as a less costly option, but then you are planning surgical procedures on patients that often heal slowly, or take so many meds that the surgery is more complicated than it otherwise might be.

Find a dentist who will spend time with your mom and you and anyone else who might be part of the decision making process. go over all of your mom's concerns, and consider all of the options. Not all options require an immediate outlay of huge amounts, although they might be expensive in the end.

Consider that her ability to comfortably eat and drink, provide herself with nutrition, is an important factor in the quality of her life, and not a worthless expense.

Also, i agree that Care Credit is useful, and reputable, and in some cases interest free for 12-18 months.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:41 PM on May 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Thanks folks. Workin' on it.
posted by ecorrocio at 10:04 AM on May 26, 2016

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