Dental Care For Dementia Patients: Tips To Keep In Mind

Managing dementia and dental health are significant and integral elements of achieving overall health. Thus they must maintain it. Poor oral hygiene contributes to dental problems, and treating them can be difficult and expensive. 

During the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, elderly persons should establish daily oral hygiene maintenance regimens. Keep reading to know what else to remember when maintaining dental care for dementia patients. 

What To Know About Daily Oral Care For Dementia Patients

Dentists should provide oral health advice since the approaches utilized to provide this support differ depending on the patient's age. Dental care focuses on prevention in the early stages of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

Regular dental cleanings and flossing can prevent the need for more invasive procedures later on when the person with dementia is less able to tolerate them. Several behavioral changes could suggest that someone with dementia is having dental issues.

Some of which include:

  • Unwillingness to consume (particularly hard or cold foods)
  • Pulling on the face or mouth regularly
  • Removing dentures that had previously been worn
  • Increased agitation, wailing, or yelling
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Reluctance to participate in everyday activities
  • Aggressive attitude
  • Inability to eat may signify mouth pain or ill-fitting dentures.

If the behavior change cannot be explained, it is important to identify the cause. As part of the procedure, a dental examination should be performed.

Maintaining dental health may become more challenging in the late stages of Alzheimer's. Perhaps the individual forgets how to use toothpaste or rinse or is opposed to helping others.

Tips To Know When Maintaining Oral Care

Ensuring you take the initiative to schedule proper oral care during a senior's night routine is essential to maintaining their dental health. A few tips to remember are:

Give Short, Simple Directions

Break down dental care instructions into steps. "Brush your teeth" may be too vague on its own. Instead, guide the individual through the procedure. "Hold your toothbrush," "Paste on the brush," "Brush your teeth," and so on.

Try The "Watch Me" Trick

Demonstrate what to do with a toothbrush. Alternatively, gently guide the brush with your palm over the person's hand. Brushing should be postponed during the day if the person appears anxious or reluctant.

Keep Their Mouth And Teeth Clean

Brush the person's teeth, gums, tongue, and roof of the mouth gently at least twice a day, with the last brushing occurring after the evening meal and any overnight liquid medication. 

If you must brush your teeth yourself, give yourself plenty of time and select a comfortable position. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle in the person's mouth to massage gum tissue while cleaning the teeth.

Floss Every Day

Most dentists advise flossing every day. If flossing causes discomfort for the Alzheimer's patient, consider cleaning between teeth using a "proxabrush."

Take Note Of The Possibility Of Mouth Pain

During mealtime, look for any signs of mouth discomfort. Refusing to eat or making strained facial gestures while eating could suggest oral pain or ill-fitting dentures.

Good dental health is a big factor of overall health, and nursing home facilities or dementia caretakers at home must be vigilant about this. Dementia patients' moods change randomly, so several behavioral changes might indicate dental problems caretakers should be aware of. 

To further understand the impact of dementia on oral health and other factors of their overall health, read through our resources at Senior Stong.

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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