Top tips on teeth brushing for people with dementia

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People with dementia can often overlook oral hygiene, they might simply forget to brush their teeth or forget why it is important to take care of their teeth and mouth.  

Toothbrush

Older adults are at an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease, so it’s important to make sure they keep up their brushing habits. Regular brushing and proper mouth care can help prevent eating difficulties, digestive problems and the need for dental procedures in the future. 

If you are caring for someone with dementia you should give them simple prompts/reminders about brushing their teeth, but if they’re struggling to remember, they may need some supervision.  

Try short and to the point instructions for what they need to do. You could even demonstrate what they need to do and have them copy you, or both of you could brush your teeth at the same time.  

If they struggle with an adult-sized toothbrush, then using a child-sized one can help them reach areas at the back of the mouth easier.  

If the person with dementia doesn’t enjoy brushing their teeth, you could try having their favourite television show on or favourite song playing while they do it as a distraction and to keep them in a happy, cheerful mood.  

It’s important for a person with dementia to make regular visits to the dentist. You should also still ensure that they gently brush the gums too and use a fluoride toothpaste to help keep their tooth enamel strong.