Desdentada: new word for today
“Mi molachita,” I call her, my little toothless one, because of the increasing gaps in her smile. It’s my way of making light of something that pains me deeply: the broken teeth in her mouth. The word doesn’t bother her at all — she giggles when I call her that. Actually, the correct Spanish word for someone who has no teeth — a rank to which I’m certain my mother never aspired — is “desdentado” or “desdentada.” Where the word “molacha” or “molacho” came from, I have no clue, nor any inclination to research, because frankly, what matters is that my mom now has yet another abscess stemming from tooth decay and a dentist yesterday recommended removing all of her teeth. All of them. There is just too much decay in her mouth, despite the fact that all of us who care for her watch her brush her teeth, watch her floss.
Things sneak up on you when you have someone with dementia. That’s because while you’re worrying about how to stop her from driving anymore, how to get her into the best neurologist, how to make sure that she doesn’t burn the house down by forgetting that she has something on the stove, small details like oral care slip between the cracks.
Who knows how long Mom’s brain was being attacked by Alzheimer’s before the obvious signs presented themselves — the walking for hours collecting aluminum cans and hoarding things such as plastic bags, for instance. Those things were easier to catch because friends and neighbors called to tell us and we could see some of them for ourselves. But while she was living alone, I’m guessing she was forgetting to do things such as brush her teeth. Which is why last year the decay announced itself with pain and broken teeth.
Now we wait for that hospital visit from which my mother will emerge truly toothless. In the meantime? Figure out how to pay for it!