Dementia and oral health
People with dementia are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease.
This is because they may not be able to express that they have toothache, or they find it challenging to follow a good oral hygiene routine.
As a result, problems can go unnoticed or untreated.
DementiaUK has lots of useful information on mouth care for people with dementia.
Maintaining good oral health
Try to build good oral health for people with dementia by:
- having a daily mouth care routine (ideally at the same time each day, to help them become familiar with the process)
- using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging their gums and teeth
- using a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a pea, and after brushing encourage them to spit out the toothpaste foam instead of swallowing it
- helping them if they are unable to brush their own teeth. You may need to guide their hand and talk them through it. Avoid putting your fingers between their teeth in case they bite down on your fingers
- regularly checking for any dental problems and contact a dentist if necessary
- encouraging them to drink plenty of water to prevent a dry mouth, which can lead to dental problems. Ask them to take small sips regularly. Try using cups or bottles that are spill proof and easy to drink from. Brightly coloured items are easier to see
- monitoring their eating habits and adjust their diet if necessary
- being patient and calm. Mouth care can be a difficult task for people with dementia. Explain what you are going to do and praise them regularly and always stay in their line of vision.
For more information on what kind of dental treatments are available to people at different stages of their dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Society’s website.
More information on dementia