Trying to talk to my mother-in-law about going to the dentist

Hi all,

Not sure if this is the correct area of the forum, but could use some advice. My wife has been looking after her Mum for several years since she had a stroke that took around 3 years of recovery, physio and care. We are grateful that she has recovered most of her motor functions and speech, and apart from a few behavioural changes, she returned to her self again.

She unfortunately also has osteoporosis, arthritis and osteoarthritis that make things quite challenging with movement and day-to-day activities at times.

I am sure that many of you will have come across the challenge that she refuses to move in with us, or to consider alternative living accommodations (supported housing etc…), opting to to live in the house she is used to, even though she finds it harder now.

Over the last few years, her teeth have been chipping and breaking and unfortunately there is very bad, visible decay - and several teeth have snapped to the gum. We have tried and tried to encourage her to go to the dentist, even just for a chat, however, she simply refuses to go. My wife and I speak to her several times a day and are over there as often as we can be. She is in her 80’s now and keeps saying that she is terrified that if she goes in and they work on her teeth, that she may not come out. We have tried to assure her that dentists would be understanding and careful. I think some of it is dignity as well, which I understand.

We are really concerned about infections and sepsis and would like to get some advice from other people that may have been in a similar situation when caring for an elderly family member on how to even get her to a check-up.

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Hi @Rincewind, welcome to the forum. There is possibility if they do it in your area is a home visit if your mother in law will not go to the dentist. You can ask her GP to make a referral and explain the situation.

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My mum had a badly bent back, she had check ups at home from the “Community Dental Service”.

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Thanks so much for the suggestions. Going to speak to the GP tomorrow, and checked about community dental, and there is onw round the corner but they need a GP referral so that may be the best bet. She’d much happier speaking with the GP, and maybe they can encourage as well.


Hi Rincewind…potatoes are the answer to most questions… :wink:

Was going to say try the community dentist. They work with people who are terrified of dentists and also with disabled people who may not cope well with a dentist. My youngest son (almost 40) goes there, and thinks they’re wonderful. Mum used to be terrified of dentists, and we managed to get her through the door. She ended up sitting in an ordinary chair while the dentist did some emergency work.

Well worth a go, but as with my Mum it might take a few goes before she has the actual treatment.


Thanks Charles… the Rincewind reference brought a smile to my face!

Unfortunately the GP said ‘Go to the dentist’. We will try again and speak to the dentist first - maybe ask them to give her a call and some reassurance to encourage her. Failing that we will just have to push with the GP again to give a referral as we cannot self refer.