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Oral Health for Caregivers


Anyone who cares for an older or disabled family member has an abundance of responsibilities. Maintaining adequate oral care is just one of many important aspects of overall health care.

Importance of Dental Care

Most professionals will agree that good oral health is important for ongoing safety, comfort, and self-esteem. Caring for teeth and the mouth helps prevent issues with tooth sensitivity and pain.

  • Broken teeth or broken partials can also be a safety issue that affects swallowing.
  • Having a sense of confidence and self-esteem is vital, and this comes from a neat appearance and good hygiene.

Potential Issues Preventing Self Care

If a family member has the ability to perform self-care, it’s always best to allow this independence. A care provider might need to provide gentle reminders to brush and floss.

  • Older adults may have physical limitations that make it difficult to hold a toothbrush and dental floss.
  • It’s also possible for people to have memory issues that make it easy to forget to brush and floss daily. For example, a person with dementia will probably need reminders to take care of their teeth every day.

Tips for Daily Care

Regardless of the situation, daily care is crucial for maintaining a healthy mouth. Follow these steps for helping older or disabled adults with their oral care.

  • Brush teeth twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time.
  • Floss in between teeth or use a between-the-teeth cleaner at least once each day.
  • Rinse dentures after every meal. Brush dentures daily with a denture cleaner. At bedtime, remove dentures and keep them in water overnight.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouth rinse to remedy a dry mouth. Try using a humidifier during the overnight hours, sipping water, or sucking on ice chips for a dry mouth.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and between-meal snacks. Choose healthy foods and beverages such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plain water for thirst.
  • Make regular dental appointments, even for those with dentures.
  • Stay vigilant to notice symptoms that could signal potential health issues, such as bad breath or sores that won’t heal. If symptoms appear, make a dental appointment right away.
  • Consult a dentist with any questions about ongoing care or oral health issues.

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