Oral Care Tips For Senior Family Members
If you are responsible for caring for an aging family member, it’s important to help them maintain a regular oral healthcare routine. For many seniors, declining oral health can not only lead to lower self-esteem, poor diet, and mouth pain, but also serious health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung infections or pneumonia.
As a caregiver, the role you play in your loved one’s daily mouth care is very important and can greatly improve their overall health and quality of life.
Tips For Brushing Another Person’s Teeth
When you help care for another person’s teeth, there are a few things you can do to make the experience easier for both of you. Understandably, your loved one may initially resist your assistance, be patient. Consistency, repetition, and encouraging words will help you both adjust to the new situation.
Before you begin: Make sure the place you intend to do the brushing is comfortable for both you and your loved one. Try to create a relaxed environment; offer some encouraging words or play music.
Preparing to brush: Put on clean, disposable gloves to protect you and your loved one from unwanted germs. Bring the person you are caring for to a sink, or if mobility is an issue, you can have them sit upright in a chair with a bowl of water nearby. Have a cup of warm water available for rinsing, as well as a towel to keep you both dry and comfortable.
Positioning yourself: With the person you provide care for sitting, stand behind them and cradle their head as you go through the steps below:
- Examine their lips and inside of the mouth. If you notice any cracking, lumps, white or red lesions, or sores that do not heal within 2 weeks, you should consult a dentist or doctor.
- Floss between the teeth and around any dental bridges and implants.
- Using a soft bristled toothbrush, gently brush each tooth in a small circular motion with gentle pressure. Angle the brush towards the gums as you brush the outside, inside, and chewing surfaces of the teeth. Brush for two minutes, at least twice a day.
- Gently brush their tongue and the roof of the mouth.
- Have your loved one rinse with warm water or an alcohol-free, germ-fighting, fluoride mouthwash. If they’re unable to rinse, ask them to spit out any excess toothpaste and debris.
If your loved one uses dentures, be sure to clean them daily, check the fit, and ensure they’re removed at night.
Oral Care Through The Day
After your loved one eats or drinks anything other than water, help them remove any remaining debris or sticky residue from their mouth and teeth by rinsing. If rinsing is not possible, you can use sterile gauze or a soft cloth to wipe away excess food residue. Encourage sips of water throughout the day to help clear their mouth of bacteria. If possible, you may also want to consider offering sugar free gum or mints which can help prevent tooth decay by encouraging saliva production and rinsing of the mouth.
Consult Your Dentist For Assistance
If you’re struggling to maintain a regular oral health routine or notice changes in your loved one’s oral health, give us a call and we can help you determine if your loved one should see a dentist or if there are other dental care measures you can be taking. Of course, keep up with regular dental visits including professional cleaning and exam twice a year. Come see us at Bonnie Doon Dental Associates to put together a dental care plan for your whole family.