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Patient Education

Dental Tips for Caregivers

Elderly CaregiverIf you’re one of the millions of caregivers of an elderly patient who perhaps suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, then you probably maintain a checklist of the many daily tasks necessary to care for them. When making your list, don’t forget to include dental health as part of your routine.

How Caregivers Can Help

  • For as long as possible, encourage the patient to care for him/herself. It’s a dignity issue.
  • When you must step in, physically demonstrate brushing and flossing, and the patient may follow. You do the remembering, one motion at a time.
  • Taking over: quietly explain what you are going to do and when. Most people respond best to a regular schedule of hygiene, and you’ll want all the cooperation you can get.
  • It’s easier to make a good job of it if you stand behind the wheelchair-bound patient and gently cup the head as you work; same goes for a person lying down or sitting.
  • Dentures should be removed and cleaned daily. Special caution: ill-fitting dentures will surely cause eating problems—just when the patient needs nutrition most.
  • Regular checkups are critical now, since patients may not be able to vocalize or properly explain when they are experiencing pain or other dental problems.

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