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Dental Care and Dementia

I recently read an article by the Alzheimer’s Association which discussed the difficulties people who are suffering from dementia can face. Good oral health is vital to ensure that a person’s teeth and gums are healthy and to avoid extensive treatment in the future. However, those suffering from dementia may forget to brush their teeth or understand the importance of maintaining good oral health.

Good oral health

It is generally recommended for people to maintain good oral health that they brush their teeth thoroughly twice a day, and floss daily. Eating a balanced diet and limiting sugary snacks all assist in a person having good oral health as well as using fluoride dental products. By maintaining good oral health this can prevent tooth decay.

For those suffering from dementia, this may not be as easy and the Alzheimer’s Association recommend the following tips are implemented to assist with a person who is suffering from Dementia:

• Provide short, simple instructions. “Brush your teeth” by itself may be too vague. Break down each step by saying: “Hold your toothbrush.” “Put toothpaste on the brush.” Then, “Brush your teeth.”

• Use a “watch me” technique. Hold a toothbrush, and show the person how to brush his or her teeth. Or, put your hand over the person’s hand, gently guiding the brush.

• Monitor daily oral care. Brush teeth or dentures after each meal, and make sure teeth are flossed daily. Disposable flossing devices may make flossing easier. Remove and clean dentures every night. Very gently brush the person’s gums, tongue and roof of the mouth. Investigate any signs of mouth discomfort during mealtime. Refusing to eat or strained facial expressions while eating may indicate mouth pain or dentures that don’t fit properly.

• Keep up with regular dental visits for as long as possible. Seeing a dentist regularly is essential for healthy teeth. Ask the dentist for suggestions.

Our Experience

The Dental Negligence Team has experience in dealing with a variety of claims. We often see cases where a dentist has failed to maintain a person’s oral heath, for instance by failing to diagnose decay.

The failure to diagnose decay has led to a person requiring more extensive treatment, such as root canal treatment, which could have been avoided if the decay had been identified earlier. In some cases, the person has required an extraction of their tooth and will require an implant or denture to restore the space.

It is important that people take responsibility for their oral health and that they have regular check ups with a dentist to check and maintain oral health.  For those suffering from dementia, it is all the more important to ensure that oral health is maintained. If you or a family member has suffered substandard dental treatment, please contact myself or a member of the Dental Negligence Team, who will be happy to assist.

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