Taking good care of teeth never stops being important. However, this can become difficult for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. As the disease progresses, your clients may become more and more forgetful about brushing their teeth and may be resistant to letting their family do it for them. As a caregiver, you can encourage your clients to have good dental hygiene. Dental hygiene is important to overall health, especially since studies have found that gum disease can possibly worsen the cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer's. Gum disease can also lead to stroke, coronary artery disease and respiratory problems.
To encourage good dental care with your clients:
- Establish a routine. Create familiarity with dental hygiene by encouraging it at the same time and in the same location every day.
- Use simple steps or demonstrations. If the patient is still capable of brushing his or her own teeth, give simple instructions if he or she becomes confused. Demonstrate with your own toothbrush so you can visually show how the patient how to brush teeth.
- Create a comfortable environment. If the Alzheimer's patient seems agitated or scared, try playing his or her favorite music or allowing him or her to hold a favorite item during the brushing.