If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia, we understand that it can sometimes be challenging to keep on top of their healthcare needs.
In this post, we explain how you can help them take care of their teeth and make visits to the dentist easier.
Our tips are designed to help make this essential task more enjoyable and less stressful for both you and your loved one.
Daily oral hygiene
Even if someone is living with dementia, oral health is important. For good dental hygiene, ensure your loved one brushes their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flosses their teeth once a day.
If they can do this unaided, they should keep up their routine.
However, if you’re wondering how to get a dementia patient to brush their teeth, here’s what their carer (or you) can do to encourage them:
- To encourage your loved one to open their mouth, stand in front of them and yawn — this should trigger them to yawn too.
- Their carer can start brushing their teeth for them, and the person with dementia can complete the task.
- Your relative with dementia can hold a toothbrush while their carer brushes their teeth with a separate one — this helps them make the connection between the brush and their oral hygiene routine.
- The carer can hold their hand over your loved one’s hand and guide them while brushing their teeth.
- You can use an electric toothbrush if your relative will comply, as it will brush the teeth efficiently with little effort.
If your relative wears dentures
Your relative’s dentures should be brushed and soaked once daily so that they are kept free of plaque, bacteria and food particles.
This helps keep your loved one’s mouth healthy and free of infection.
If your relative has a dry mouth
Some medications or health conditions can result in a dry mouth. A lack of saliva can increase the risk of tooth decay, so be sure to consult your relative’s doctor for advice if they are experiencing a dry mouth.
Visits to the dentist
When someone is living with dementia, it’s important to try to maintain their normal routine as much as possible.
Seeing their usual dentist for check-ups is important, as the familiarity will make your loved one feel more at ease — ideally, they will be a dementia-friendly dentist who is familiar with the issues they are facing.
To make it easier, you can also:
Schedule a morning appointment if your relative experiences “sundowning” (confusion that comes on in the late afternoon).
Let the dental practice know ahead of the appointment that your relative is living with dementia.
Tell the dentist about any health conditions affecting your relative in addition to dementia, and take a list of medications with you.
Compassionate care at your local dentist in Te Atatu
Here at Opal Dental, we understand that our patients each have their own needs — this includes our patients with dementia.
We pride ourselves on offering compassionate care to all our patients, so if you’re looking for a dementia-friendly dentist in Te Atatu, give us a call.
We’ll be happy to see your loved one for a simple check-up or for any other of their dental needs — it’s all part of the service.