5 Oral Care Tips for Dementia Caregivers

September 30, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

Seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often forget to brush their teeth, or even remember why it’s important to do so. Alzheimer’s home care in Hanover can help pick up the slack, but it’s important for family caregivers to know how to encourage their senior loved ones to brush every day. Neglected oral health can lead to a whole host of other problems, such as eating difficulties, digestive problems and infections.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure they stay on top of their oral health game.

1.  Keep It Simple

Provide them with short and easy instructions for brushing their teeth. Break it down into small steps. Don’t just say “go into the bathroom and brush your teeth.” This is too overwhelming for them and there’s a good chance they will forget what to do once in the bathroom. Instead, walk with them into the bathroom, and then go through each step alongside them:

  • “Hold the toothbrush in your hand.”
  • “Squeeze toothpaste onto the brush.”
  • “Brush your teeth gently.”
  • “Rinse and spit.”
  • “Place the toothbrush back in its holder and the toothpaste back in the drawer.”

If your loved one is having a hard time accommodating an adult toothbrush, purchase a children’s toothbrush instead, as the head is smaller and the bristles are softer so they can get to those hard-to-reach areas more comfortably.

2.  Lead By Example

As with children, it’s helpful for your senior loved one to watch you do the task first so they can imitate it. Hold your own toothbrush to your own teeth and show them the motion of brushing. Then, if you have to, place your hand on theirs and physically guide them in brushing their own teeth.

3.  Get Into a Routine

Brushing is a routine-based task that can be easier to accomplish each day if it’s done at an expected time. Stick to a routine of brushing teeth first thing in the morning or perhaps after breakfast, then later in the day before bed, after they have eaten supper and taken their nighttime liquid medication, suggests the Alzheimer’s Association.

4.  Help Them Floss

Flossing is a bit trickier to maneuver but it still must be done for optimal oral health. While this step can be a struggle, if you take it slow like the steps for the brushing, you can help them accomplish this too. If it’s too difficult for your loved one to grip the floss and work it between their teeth, try a water flossing machine, which is gentler on the gums and easier to manipulate.

Walk them through the process step by step, being mindful of the water temperature, pressure setting and nozzle angle.

5.  Encourage Plenty of Water

Drinking lots of water throughout the day brings many health benefits, but it’s also helpful in flushing out residual food particles and bacteria to prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque. In addition, proper hydration keeps the mouth moist and inhibits bacterial growth. This is especially important for the elderly, who often suffer from dry mouth caused by certain medications and lack of saliva as they age, says AgingCare.

Heeding the above tips can ensure your senior loved one with dementia can safely maintain good oral health practices.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

With at home care in Hanover behind you, you can get peace of mind knowing your loved one will maintain their oral health as part of their activities of daily living. Please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500 to learn more about our various senior home care services.