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Assisting People with Alzheimer's Disease with Dental Health

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People with Alzheimer Disease/Dementias will require some assistance with daily oral care in the early and mid stages of the disease. They will require total care in the advanced stages.

How can I help the Alzheimer's client with their oral care?

  • Brush teeth twice a day.
  • Floss teeth once a day. If flossing becomes too difficult, a rubber tipped stimulator, special toothpicks, or a small pointed toothbrush may replace flossing.
  • Clean cheeks, tongue and roof of the mouth with a soft toothbrush at least once a day.
  • Further assistance to guide the brush to areas of the mouth may be required, such as the caregiver placing their hand on top of the individual’s hand (hand over hand technique).
  • In the later stages, the caregiver may need to provide all of the daily oral hygiene.

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What else should I know about oral care?

  • Strong tasting toothpaste may bother the individual, therefore mild gel products are recommended; ask a dental professional or pharmacist.
  • In the late stages of the disease, the individuals are often frightened by the sound of the electric toothbrush.

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What should I know about visits to the Dental Professional?

  • Inform the dental professional early of the disease diagnosis, to allow for any changes that may be needed in treatment planning.
  • Shorter and more frequent dental appointments may be needed.
  • Sedation may be required for some treatment.

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What are some common oral problems?

  • Dry Mouth : Some medications can make the mouth very dry. Use moisturizing products available at a pharmacy to ease the dryness.
  • Mild gum infections (gingivitis): Consult a dental professional.  Gingivitis is usually due to a reduced ability to clean the gum area.

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What should I know about denture care?

  • In the early and middle stages of the disease, reminders and coaching to remove and clean dentures may be required.
  • In the later stages of the disease, the caregiver will need to provide all of the care including removing the dentures at night.
  • Dentures should be labelled with owner’s name. A dentist or denturist can provide this service.
  • Regular monitor the denture for fit.
  • Full or partial dentures that are loose can prevent proper chewing and could be accidentally swallowed.
  • Place a face cloth in the sink prior to cleaning to prevent breakage if the denture is dropped.

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