1. Expert Q&A: Living well as a carer - Thurs 29 August, 3-4pm

    As a carer for a person living with dementia, the needs of the person you care for will often come before your own. You may experience a range of difficult emotions and you may not have the time to do all the things you need to do. Caring can have a big impact on both your mental and physical health, as well as your overall wellbeing.

    Angelo, our Knowledge Officer (Wellbeing) is our expert on this topic. He will be here to answer your questions on Thursday 29 August between 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

A sour taste in the mouth

Discussion in 'I have a partner with dementia' started by northumbrian_k, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    716
    Male
    Newcastle
    Getting my wife to brush her teeth has become increasingly difficult over the last 2 years. She does not see the connection between her self-declared 'perfect' teeth and the need to keep them clean. She was due her 6 month dental checkup so I arranged for an appointment at a surgery 5 minutes walk from her residential home rather than her usual place 5 miles away. She is mobile, so visiting the surgery seemed better than waiting untiI a dentist from the same practice came to the home. I outlined her circumstances, specified where she is living and confirmed that she is able to do stairs. I had high hopes that the practice would be dementia-friendly.

    On arrival, the receptionist handed my wife an electronic tablet and asked her to start listing her medication and to answer a string of questions. Even filling this in on paper would be beyond her so I did it from the list that I have committed to memory. I am computer-literate but not good with keyboards so this took some time, but I did my best, under some pressure as the dentist had already called for my wife.

    Upstairs I was shown a seat whilst my wife was helped into the dental chair. The rather irritable young dentist said that some of the questions had been answered wrongly so we had to go through them again. He then tried to get my wife to sign her name on a tablet, which she could not do (no surprise) so I did it on her behalf.

    My wife was very good during the examination and did most of what the dentist told her. She did not understand his instruction to bite. He repeated it. She did not understand. Only when I suggested that she should think of eating something did she get it. He then asked her if she flossed. Er, what?

    My wife's teeth are in reasonable shape (according to the dentist) but she has some gum disease and a build up of plaque. Clean your teeth twice a day with flouride toothpaste he said. I told him that this was unlikely to happen. At her last checkup she was referred to a dental hygienist so I asked if this was indicated. The arrogant chap (no doubt just saying what his training told him) said that he did not believe in putting the 'patient' through unnecessary and pointless treatment if she wasn't prepared to clean her teeth properly! Clean your teeth as advised and come back in 6 months he told her.

    The dentist suggested that he could put on a half hour talk about dental hygiene at the home. It seemed that he meant that this would be for residents. On reflection, I can't believe that he could be that unaware of how dementia robs people of the ability to understand or remember the simplest things, or to sit still for long enough to appreciate his erudition.

    The experience left a rather sour taste in my mouth but it was not all bad. On the walk back my wife recognised some of the staff from the nearby respite centre so we chatted to them for a while. Back at her home, I entertained the manager and 2 members of care staff with a description of the visit and the dentist's complete lack of empathy and understanding. This served as a good way in to the subject of my wife's dental hygiene and how to tackle it. That, of course, is a different story.
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,125
    Kent
    Neither can I.
     
  3. Banjomansmate

    Banjomansmate Registered User

    Jan 13, 2019
    976
    Female
    Dorset
    Wait until he gets old!
     
  4. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    Oh dear, what an experience, and none of it useful.

    I'm afraid I would always assume that someone, even a health professional, doesn't understand dementia - simply on the basis they rarely do! I hope there are dementia-friendly dental practices out there somewhere.
     
  5. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,881
    Female
    South coast
    Oh dear. Im sorry, but not overly surprised.
    Perhaps it would be better to get her to see the dentist who comes to the home in future. Professionals who visit care homes regularly usually have a more realistic idea of what can be achieved
     
  6. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    5,752
    Female
    Scotland
    Because my husband is clean and smart and at the moment tanned and well looking for his 86 years there is an assumption that there is no problem. Some people don't question how he could manage to be in such good condition but of course we all know - I do everything including wheeling him out into the garden in the sunshine!

    Duh!

    His dentist however is practically perfect. She is a young woman of about 30.
     
  7. Guzelle

    Guzelle Registered User

    Aug 27, 2016
    348
    Sheffield
    Perhaps he should go to a talk about dementia and learn how to treat his patients who have dementia?
    Luckily my OH’s dentist is very good with him and has known him 25 years so is very patient and helpful. I wouldn’t want to change dentist at this stage.
     
  8. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    716
    Male
    Newcastle
    I agree but had the curious notion that - even if he had not visited the home himself - the fact that his colleagues in the same practice do so might have give him some clues.
     
  9. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    716
    Male
    Newcastle
    You are lucky to have such continuity. We have been going to a practice for nearly 40 years and, almost every time, we see someone new as the previous one has 'just left'. There is one dentist who has been there for a long time but my wife would not like to see him and I can't imagine that he has much patience or empathy. It was he who told me that I might have cancer (I had bitten my tongue) then did not even have the sense to tell me that I hadn't next time I was there.
     
  10. jenniferjean

    jenniferjean Registered User

    Apr 2, 2016
    371
    Female
    Basingstoke, Hampshire
    When we lived in Wales our dentist was brilliant with my husband and understood well his condition. But the one we have here now doesn't appear to understand at all. She first started to lecture him about cleaning his teeth until I explained to her that he was unable to remember anything that she was telling him. She seemed to get the picture eventually but them told me that in that case I would have to clean his teeth for him. She seemed surprised when I told her that no way would he let that happen. So she suggested that he had an appointment every three months so that she could give a thorough clean each time.
     
  11. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    I don't know what I would do if my husband had to change dentists. We have had the same one for years, the practice is just across the road from our medical centre and even though the receptionist is totally off the planet, she is familiar to him too. We are now at the stage of three monthly check ups. I did 'invest' in a very expensive toothbrush which was rather an adventure to get him to use correctly but so far so good. Fingers crossed and teeth gritted!
     
  12. northumbrian_k

    northumbrian_k Registered User

    Mar 2, 2017
    716
    Male
    Newcastle
    I have off-loaded my thoughts and made some helpful suggestions to the dentist, who it turns out is the owner of the practice. I'm not holding my breath for improvements but one can only try.
     
  13. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    But at least you tried to educate someone.
     
  14. Sarahdun

    Sarahdun Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    348
    My OH has badly bleeding gums but the dentist told us it was not gum disease but a side effect of taking Donepizil (aricept), so they prescribed prescription toothpaste with extra flouride in it.
     

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