Alzheimer’s is a difficult disease for both the individual, family members, and caretakers. However, there are ways to make those that suffer from Alzheimer’s comfortable enough to live as normal and healthy of a life as possible. One thing that often suffers when a person gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is their dental care. As a dentist who has been practicing dentistry for more than 20 years, I have helped families and care takers figure out ways their loved ones with Alzheimer’s can have a good dental care routine. Here are my tips for keeping an oral care routine as well as ways to help patients with Alzheimer’s have a healthy mouth.
Brushing twice a day and flossing
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is the best way to keep someone with Alzheimer’s teeth healthy. If they have a hard time remembering to do this or need it done for them this makes having a routine more difficult. However, there are a few ways to make implementing a dental routine somewhat easier.
Start by giving short, and simple instructions on how to brush the teeth and floss. Walk the individual through the entire process of holding their toothbrush, putting on toothpaste, and actually brushing their teeth. The same goes with flossing. Show them how to hold the string and move it in between their teeth.
You may need to do this for them if they are unable to, so slowly walk through the process and explain everything in detail. You can even do it to yourself so they can see what should be happening.
Maintaining a healthy diet
A healthy diet is essential in keeping a healthy mouth. It can be harder for elderly patients and those with Alzheimer’s to maintain a healthy diet and sometimes their teeth may suffer.
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, try to prepare meals that are high in nutrients to help them keep their teeth and bones strong. Also, avoid foods that are high in sugars as this can quickly lead to tooth decay.
A diet that is full of proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and dairy is important for anyone to have a healthy mouth and especially those with Alzheimer’s.
Visiting the dentist regularly
Visiting the dentist regularly is an important part of one’s dental routine, especially individuals with Alzheimer’s. They may be suffering from dental issues or mouth pains and not be able to communicate it so it’s important that they see a dentist at least twice a year, if not more.
If it is difficult for a patient to leave their residence, consider setting up an appointment with a traveling dentist who can visit them in their home. This makes dental care more accessible to those with Alzheimer’s and gives them a better opportunity to take care of their mouths.
A traveling dentist will be able to give routine exams and cleanings as well as uncover any oral issues a person may be suffering from. They will also help discuss treatment plans if needed as well.
Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult for everyone involved. There are a lot of challenges that need to be overcome and it can be hard to watch the condition eat away at an individual. However, there are ways to make them more comfortable and it’s important that caretakers and loved ones do their part.
Dental health is often affected by Alzheimer’s, so it’s important that individuals try to maintain an oral care routine. Brushing, flossing, eating a healthy diet, and visiting the dentist are all ways to help people have a healthy mouth as they live with this disease. While it may be difficult at times, try to never give up on working towards the healthy mouth they deserve.
Gust post contributed by Dr. Amanda Tavoularis (dentably.com)