Alzheimer’s Disease and oral health

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April 26th, 2017

Good oral health is a crucial part of overall health and well-being for all people, including those with Alzheimer’s Disease. Good oral health also makes eating and digesting food easier, which improves a person’s quality of life. However, Alzheimer’s can complicate oral health routines, which sometimes leads to dental problems. If you or someone you love is suffering from Alzheimer’s, we’ve put together a few tips to help maintain good oral health.

  1. Brush twice a day and floss once a day
    • Find a tooth brushing and flossing solution that the patient can manage but is also easy for a caregiver to use, if the patient needs help. An electric toothbrush like one of these and a floss holder may be a good options.
    • The physical action of brushing is what removes plaque and bacteria from the teeth; toothpaste is used primarily for flavor and to deliver fluoride to the teeth. However, if the patient cannot tolerate toothpaste, it is ok to brush with water only.
    • Ask your dentist about using a take-home fluoride rinse or anti-microbial solution to further protect the teeth and gums.
  2. Rinse the mouth and clean dentures after eating
    • Swallowing can be difficult for Alzheimer’s patients. Prioritize clearing the patient’s mouth of food and rinsing after meals, and be sure to remove dentures while doing so.
    • Brush the patient’s gums and roof of the mouth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  3. Fully examine the patient’s teeth and gums at least once a month
    • The patient’s dentist may be able to show you trouble spots to pay close attention to.
    • Be sure to look for any signs of gum disease, such as red, swollen or bleeding gums.
  4. Visit the dentist regularly
    • Have a dental cleaning every six months (or as often as your dentist recommends), but also visit the dentist between cleanings if any dental concerns present.
    • Keep the dentist and staff aware of any changing medical conditions, including a current list of medications.