How to Handle One Who Has Poor Oral Health
Have professional backup: Visit a dentist twice a year to check for cavities, gum infections, dangerously cracked teeth, ill-fitting dentures, and the like. Make sure the office knows the person has dementia, to book adequate time. For tough cases, ask for a referral to a geriatric dentist who has experience working with Alzheimer’s patients.
Incorporate toothbrushing into the daily routine, such as when getting dressed or ready for bed (ideally both).
Use the same brand of toothpaste the person has always used, if you can.
Provide a thick-handled, easy-to-grip toothbrush. The noise of an electric toothbrush may cause distress.
If the person doesn’t recognize a toothbrush, slowly insert your own toothbrush in your mouth to model how it’s done.
If the person clenches their teeth and won’t open them, brush what you can see.
Dentists recommend flossing, but unless the person is cooperative about oral care, it’s not worth the battle or risk of being bitten.
Clean dentures daily. Don’t leave it up to them. Ask the dentist the correct way if you’re unsure.
Minimize the number of products in the bathroom.