Caregivers have so many responsibilities for the physical and mental well-being of their loved ones, and maintaining good oral health is just one of many tasks on that list. However, it is extremely important to address this need, especially if the care recipient’s ability to perform oral hygiene tasks is limited.
Obstacles to Good Dental Care in Care Recipients
People who need assistance from caregivers often may struggle to perform their own activities of daily living (ADLs), and this can impact their oral health. For example, they may:
- Lack physical dexterity needed to brush and floss teeth
- Lack cognitive functioning needed to brush and floss teeth
- Take medications that can affect their oral health
- Experience mood symptoms that interfere with the motivation to perform daily oral hygiene tasks
All of these issues can result in accumulation of plaque and tartar, both of which are laden with potentially harmful oral bacteria. If that oral bacteria results in oral diseases, the care recipient may need to receive extensive treatment from a dentist.
How Caregivers can Help Protect Oral Health
Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take as a caregiver to reduce your loved one’s risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease.
- Get your loved one on track with an oral hygiene routine.
- Assist your loved one as needed with oral hygiene tasks. For example, you may need to put the toothpaste on the brush for them or give cues as reminders of how they should brush or floss.
- Rinse dentures after eating and clean them more thoroughly on a daily basis.
- Monitor for medication side effects, such as dry mouth, that can negatively affect oral health.
- Make sure your loved one is eating a smile-boosting diet that optimizes the nutritional intake of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy smile, while minimizing sugar exposure.
Furthermore, your loved one should be established with a dentist whom they can see at least twice a year for check-ups and cleanings. If your loved one needs any special accommodations to receive such routine care, choose a provider who is able to make those accommodations.
Would you like more advice on how to manage your loved one’s oral health care? Call the office of Dr. John Morris and speak to one of our knowledgeable and friendly staff members for some guidance.