Alzheimer’s disease is the cognitive decline some older adults experience as they age. This progressive disease is incurable, and caregivers must help the patient do everything from eating to bathing and toileting. That also includes brushing his or her teeth. They might remember they used to brush their teeth, but forget how to do so or why it’s important in the first place. It’s important to take care of an elderly person’s teeth, because it can prevent chewing difficulties, digestive problems, and even infections.
During the middle to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, maintaining good oral hygiene will be challenging for caregivers. Their loved one may not know to spit out excess toothpaste or how to rinse, and the patient may be confused and resistant to help from others. Try to be patient. Provide short, easy-to-follow instructions, and don’t just say “brush your teeth,” which they may not understand. Tell them to hold the toothbrush, put toothpaste on the toothbrush, then tell them to brush their teeth. You can also have them follow by your example, using a “watch me” technique.
It Helps to Work with the Right Dentist
A caring dentist can work with an elderly patient or someone with Alzheimer’s and provide instructions to their caregiver or loved ones. It may be challenging and require interdisciplinary instruction to ensure proper oral hygiene is accomplished, but by keeping up with regular dental visits for as long as possible, you can help prevent tooth decay, pain, infection, and gum disease.
At Austell Dental Associates, we can help provide compassionate instructions to you and your loved one on proper oral hygiene. Our goal is always to keep your mouth as healthy as possible for as long as possible. We take a kind, instructive approach with our patients.
Does your elderly loved one need a dentist? Contact us at Austell Dental Associates at (770) 467-3888 for an appointment.