If you are caring for a relative with late stage dementia, you already have a mountain of things to think about and may have overlooked teeth. As hard as it is to add another concern to the list, oral hygiene problems can result in greater issues that will need to be dealt with later on. These tips can help you to help your relative keep their teeth healthy.
Be Aware of Issues That Can Arise as a Result of Medication
If your relative is on prescription medication to help with the effects of their illness, they may suffer from side effects such as dry mouth. The lack of saliva can make dentures uncomfortable and ill-fitting. In addition to the lubrication that saliva provides, it also helps to cleanse the mouth. Without this, you need to be on the lookout for issues that occur as a result of excessive plaque, such as gum disease.
If your relative is suffering from ill-fitting dentures, artificial saliva and denture adhesives may rectify the problem. Additionally, giving regular sips of water throughout the day can also help keep the mouth hydrated. Consult your dentist for the latest recommendations.
Cleaning Guide for Your Relative
For a Relative with Dentures
As your relative may not be able to tell you when they have a problem, it is essential to monitor their mouth health to look for problems as they arise. Watch for clues that they are suffering from mouth pain, such as refusing to eat or pulling painful expressions while they're eating. Adopt a good oral hygiene routine -- brush dentures after every meal to help keep the mouth healthy. Before putting teeth back in, brush your relative's tongue, gums and roof of the mouth gently.
For a Relative with Their Own Teeth -- Give Thorough Instructions
If your relative is in late stage Alzheimer's, it may not be enough to tell them to brush their teeth twice a day. Giving more specific instructions that break the act of cleaning teeth down to the individual steps can work better. Tell them to hold their toothbrush and add toothpaste, then instruct them on what to do next.
Help Your Relative through Leading by Example
It may be necessary to show your relative how to clean their teeth. You can teach by example by brushing your teeth with them and allowing them to mirror your actions. Or you can place your hand on top of theirs to guide them correctly.
Maintain Regular Dentist Visits for Your Relative
Maintaining a routine of regular dental appointments is important and allows you to deal with problems before they become serious. It also allows you to raise concerns and seek advice from your dentist. For relatives with their own teeth, regular (6-monthly) visits to a hygienist will help keep bacteria buildup away.