Dental Care and Hygiene for the Dementia Patient

Dental Care for Dementia Patients

Dental care and maintaining good oral hygiene in dementia patients is often considered to be a difficult task; however, it is a critical component of their daily care.

It is imperative to focus on dental care prevention in the earliest stages of the patient’s dementia because the condition worsens as time progresses, which leads to increased levels of difficulty in caring for the sufferer’s oral health.

If dental care and hygiene is not placed as a priority, it could lead to poor oral health. This, in turn, could lead to adverse behaviors, gum disease, tooth decay, and the inability to properly eat and receive good nutrition.

If your loved one has dementia, continue reading for information and tips pertaining to dental care and oral hygiene.

Special Issues Pertaining to the Dementia Patient and Oral Hygiene

There are several unique conditions and situations that may detrimentally impact the oral health of the dementia sufferer. Many take medications, for example, that could lead to the development of dry mouth.

If left untreated, plaque accumulates in the mouth and gum disease will develop. As this disease progresses, the teeth may start to rot and the patient may be more susceptible to mouth infections.

Furthermore, dementia patients are often unable to care appropriately for their teeth and often do not make or keep appointments with their dentists for routine checkups and care. When you take these special issues into consideration, you can clearly see that many oral health problems are likely to impact the individual as their dementia progresses.

Recognizing Dental Problems in Someone with Dementia

It is a known fact that many patients with dementia are unable to effectively communicate. This means if they are experiencing pain or any type of discomfort in terms of oral health, they may not be able to tell you.

The following outlines some signs that may indicate that there is a problem that needs to be addressed by a dental professional:

  • You may start to see your loved one engage in unusual behaviors such as pulling at their mouth or at their face.
  • Many dementia patients with teeth or mouth problems may start to refuse certain types of foods, especially those that are cold, hot, and/or hard.
  • If the individual previously wore dentures, they may refuse to wear them. This often stems from discomfort due to an infection, gum disease, or a similar issue.
  • When performing activities involving the face or mouth – such as brushing the teeth, shaving the face, or washing the face – you may see your loved one start to flinch or become agitated.
  • Many dementia patients that cannot communicate oral health issues may not sleep very well. You may discover that they moan in their sleep or that they experience a higher than normal amount of restlessness during sleeping hours.
  • Finally, aggression, anger, emotional outbursts, and irritation may be displayed by the dementia patient that is in need of professional dental assistance.

We here at Implant & Perio Centers of Kansas work with elderly patients and patients that have dementia and other cognitive issues on a regular basis.

If your loved one has dementia and is in need of oral health care, simply contact us today to see if our practice is a good fit for your individual situation:

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