If you are a caregiver for someone who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own, there are some things you can do to ensure good oral health and reduce their risk of developing other health issues.
Brushing and flossing—simple enough tasks for most of us—can be challenging for someone who is ill or disabled. But they are critical because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause conditions such as pneumonia.
Here are some basic tips to make it easier for you to provide good oral care for your patient:
- Find a comfortable place for tooth brushing. This could be by the sink, but it could be in a chair with a towel and cup of water handy.
- Experiment to find a comfortable position that gives you a good reach for brushing, such as standing behind your client or sitting in front of them as you brush.
- Using a soft brush with rounded bristles will be more comfortable for your client. If they are able to brush, find a toothbrush that is easy for them to grip and maneuver.
- Brush carefully, brushing the tooth and the gum line at a 45 degree angle. Use a rolling back and forth motion on a few teeth at a time until you have brushed all of the teeth. Brush the top and back of the teeth and gently brush the tongue. Check for food particles.
- Use little or no toothpaste. The back and forth motions of brushing are more effective than toothpaste in removing buildup and plaque; and toothpaste can be difficult for your client to swallow.
- Replace the toothbrush after a few months to keep the bacteria that collect on a toothbrush from affecting your client’s health.
- Take care of dentures. If your patient is eating less or has trouble eating, denture problems could be the cause. Check with a dentist to determine what to do. Keep the dentures clean.
- Floss every day. There are many tools that can make flossing easier and more accessible such as floss holders, floss threaders, small brushes, and toothpicks.
Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. If you need help or have questions about caring for a patient’s or loved one’s teeth, Dr. Douglas Angell and our hygienists will be happy to help. Just give our office a call and be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.