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There comes a time when the tides change, and we become a caregiver to those that raised us and drove us to soccer practice, dance recitals, and music lessons. They helped us brush our hair and taught us to brush our teeth. Now we are the ones helping with shopping, shuttling to doctor’s appointments, assisting with errands, and balancing checkbooks. One often overlooked (but just as important) task is helping your loved one maintain oral health. Keeping their mouth and teeth clean can prevent sensitivity or pain in the patient’s mouth. Good oral hygiene is essential. If your loved one is in a long-term health care facility, ask about the dental care available. Who would be giving the daily dental hygiene care? Making sure your loved one has daily oral health care and regular visits to the dentist is very important.

A List To Help You Keep Your Loved One’s Daily Oral Health Care On Track

Becoming a caregiver is both an honor and a significant life change. With these tips, helping your aging parent or family member keep their mouth healthy is one less thing to worry about.

  • Watch for symptoms that could be a result of a larger issue. A yeast-like fungus called Candida or Thrush can be caused by some medications that cause dry mouth.
  • If your relative complains about dry mouth, use a fluoride rinse or gel daily. There are many mouth rinses for dry mouth. Have a glass of water with a straw and ice chips set by your patient. Sipping on water or ice chips can also help with dry mouth.
  • Make brushing easy: If standing is difficult, let them brush their teeth where they’re most comfortable. Maybe sitting at the kitchen table is easier. Have your family member brush their teeth and rinse them out in a bowl of water.
  • Take your loved one to a regular dental appointment for an examination and cleaning – even if they have dentures or partials. It is important to have the dentures and oral tissue examined to ensure there are no sore areas on the tissue or cracks in the denture.
  • Use a special toothbrush.  A quick Google search brings up many large-handled toothbrushes that make holding a toothbrush easier for someone with arthritis. Electric toothbrushes are also an excellent choice since they require less dexterity and usually have larger bases.
  • Don’t forget the dentures!  If your loved one has dentures, don’t forget to brush them! Bacteria love to grow in dark, wet places, and if dentures aren’t removed and cleaned often enough, an already compromised elderly immune system might not be able to fight off an infection. While they are being brushed, inspect them for cracks, chips, and other signs of damage that might rub or create a sore spot in your family member’s mouth.
  • Do a breath check. One of the many symptoms of gum disease or an infected tooth is bad breath. Regularly (yet discreetly) check your loved one’s breath. If their breath smells rancid, make an appointment for an exam.
  • Limit snacks and sugars. This might be tricky, but if you help with shopping, try to encourage fruits and vegetables over sweets and candy. An occasional treat is fine, but a heavy diet of sugary, starchy foods isn’t healthy for anyone.

As a caregiver, your job is to help your loved ones stay healthy and safe. A large piece of that puzzle is to make sure they brush their teeth and continue to have regular exams and cleanings. Arthritis and loss of dexterity can make it difficult for them to brush their teeth properly. Additionally, some may have memory issues making it easy to forget to care for their mouths. Hopefully, these tips have helped you to help your aging parent or family member keep their mouth healthy.

Contact us (859) 586-7900 for more information or to make an appointment!

About Torbeck Dental

Torbeck Dental treats every patient with dignity and excellent care. We are highly trained dental professionals with exceptionally friendly and helpful service. We understand that for many, visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience so our comfortable surroundings and compassionate staff will ease any fears you may have. We are here to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest smile! Our dental team are a group of experienced professionals using the latest treatments. Our team has the professional experience to realize that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment, so we never use a one-size-fits-all approach to your dental plan. We provide quality and personalized oral health care while keeping your individuality in mind. Our goal is to improve and maintain your oral health so you can smile with confidence!