In this post, I would like to address how to care for dental health of a person with Alzheimer’s disease & dementia. Preventive dental treatments are the key to success.
These little tips may be used with kids as well.
Considering different stages of progression of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to address oral care early on.
The disease may start with forgetfulness to brush and floss, then the how to brush and floss. One way to remind someone to brush and floss is having a simple print of a weekly calendar that’s taped to the mirror. In each day, mark morning and night brush and floss. The person then will check off the morning brush and nightly brush and floss. It is very important to keep the mouth healthy to prevent problems with infections, eating and digestion. If dentures are present, this home care will prevent the dentures from not fitting well or cause pain while wearing them. Yes, you can still have infections and pain even when no teeth present.
At the early stages, the focus is truly on prevention & addressing any outstanding issues the person might have so the problems have a lesser of a chance to develop later on. At this stage, it is very important to form a long term, based on trust, relationship with an oral care provider (dental hygienist, dentist, nurse). The established relationship will help later on when dealing with difficult situations.
To create appointments that are easy and short, I recommend 3 month hygiene treatments for Alzheimer’s disease patients. Prevention of disease, assessing issue early on and low deposit levels makes the treatments easier to bare. Again, a lot of work in early stages might help in the future. It is all about finding the right team.
During the more advanced stages, it may become more challenging. The patient may not only forget to brush and floss but also what to do with the toothbrush, floss, toothpaste. Even to rinse the mouth may become difficult.
It is super important to keep it simple. Direct, short instructions are the key to better communication. Also, never underestimate the power of actually showing how to.
At severe and very severe decline stage, a caregiver will have to do the oral home care for the patient. I find it important to star this early on, when the patient still has a connection with the caregiver. Introducing an electric toothbrush at the initial stages is helpful since the caregiver will only need to position the toothbrush without moving it around too much to brush teeth. I feel early introduction of any tools is imperative. It is important to brush twice daily and floss before bed.
Patient will experience dry mouth (due to meds). Products I recommend and provide @ Floss Bosses are Remin Toothpaste which remineralizes and repairs the tooth. It contains Xylitol that is crucial in microbial reduction. It is one of the most natural toothpaste since it does only contain 2 ingredients. Another product all my patients rev about are Xylimelts. These are pastilles that are placed above the teeth. Xylimelts work on central nervous system stimulating saliva flow. Containing Xylitol, they have bacteria killing properties as well. Early intervention to tackle dry mouth is important so it prevents issues like gum disease and cavities.
If a patient wears dentures, it is important that they do not sleep with them in their mouth. The tissue underneath needs to breath to prevent sores. As well, brushing the gums and rinsing the dentures after meals is strongly recommended.
Be aware of any pain. If patient suddenly stops eating, it might be due to pain in the mouth.
Due to Covid-19, there are precautions that need to be taken into consideration.
At Floss Bosses, when scheduling an appointment for someone with Alzheimer’s or any patient that is immune compromised, we book it early in the day, preferably on Monday to minimize their exposure to any harmful germs.
If you have ay questions or concerns, never hesitate to call, email or text us.
For now, Let the floss be with you!
Anitka Helliker your Floss Boss