Taking care of elderly or disabled loved ones is rewarding, but can also be challenging. You may be responsible for managing many of their needs, including their oral health routine. Oral health can dramatically affect a person’s overall well-being therefore, it is important to ensure their dental hygiene is a top priority.
Thanks to arthritis and other age-related conditions, your loved one may be unable to hold a toothbrush, or they may have difficulty remembering their oral hygiene routine. If you take care of a disabled loved one, he or she may unable to provide self-care, so it is important to recognize where problems exist and develop a routine that works for everyone.
The following tips will help you care for your loved one’s oral health:
- Establish a routine: A routine can be of great comfort for those with needs. Create a schedule detailing when teeth will be brushed or dentures will be cleaned. Set daily reminders on your phone to ensure all tasks are performed at approximately the same time of day, and in the same manner. When your relative knows what to expect, they’re less likely to balk or react poorly.
- Consider electric toothbrushes: Electric toothbrushes can be great for people with mobility issues. It’s much easier to perform a thorough cleaning with an electric toothbrush, especially if they have trouble moving their fingers, hands or arms.
- Apply toothpaste: Make oral hygiene easier on your loved one by applying toothpaste to the toothbrush before you hand it to them. One less step can make a world of difference when they’re struggling.
- Floss daily: When your loved one has a checkup at Fioritto Dental, ask one of our hygienists or dentists to demonstrate proper flossing technique. While it’s easy to floss your own teeth, doing so for another person can be awkward. Floss picks may make the task easier!
- Clean dentures daily: If your relative wears dentures, be sure to clean them daily. Leaving dentures in the mouth overnight can lead to bacterial growth and mouth sores. Remember, even those with dentures still need to brush. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush the tongue and gums, then rinse with water or mouthwash.
- Understand medication side effects: Your loved one may have medication which causes dry mouth. Dry mouth can contribute to or cause a number of dental health problems. Our dentists can provide solutions to address the specific problem. One example is to use an oral rinse specifically designed for a dry mouth.
- Keep a healthy diet: Good oral hygiene begins with a healthy diet. Avoid sugary foods, sodas and sports drinks. Make sure plenty of water is available, and is within reach. Serving well-balanced meals and healthy snacks is essential.
- Rinse with water and/or mouthwash: Finally, make sure your loved one rinses their mouth with water and/or mouthwash. This will remove lingering bacteria. Please note, some patients will be unable to spit out mouthwash, so adjust your routine as necessary.
Fioritto Family Dental is committed to providing your family with excellent dental care. Call us today to schedule your next appointment!