Dental Care and Alzheimer's Disease

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the patient with dementia may begin to forget how to properly brush their teeth or other dental care needs. Proper dental care is important for preventing eating difficulties, digestive problems or oral infections. As their caretaker, you will have to assist or take a more hands on approach with their oral health routine.

Maintaining Daily Oral Care

The main focus in dental  is prevention during the earlier stages of Alzheimer's. At this time, it is still crucial for them to have dentist appointments, brushing and flossing; that can help prevent extensive procedures later on. During the middle or later stages of Alzheimer's, oral health may become challenging. This is the timeframe when a person forgets how to properly brush their teeth, how to rinse or how to use toothpaste. During this time, the caregiver will need to assist them.

Try these tips when assisting your patient:

Provide short, simple instructions.

Explain each dental care by breaking directions down into steps. Don’t let the steps be too vague.

Provide demonstration.

Hold a toothbrush and show the person how to brush their teeth. If needed, put your hand over theirs and gently guide their brush.

Keep the teeth and mouth clean.

In a gentle manner, brush their gums, teeth, tongue and the roof of their mouth at least twice a day. The last brushing should be after dinner or after nighttime liquid medication. 

Keeping their Dentist informed.

Provide their dentist with a list of medications, as well as a list of all the health providers who are also caring for them. It is also important to keep up with regular dental visits as long as possible. Dental visits help prevent tooth decay, gum problems, pain and infections.

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