1. Expert Q&A: Benefits - Weds 23 October, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of benefits. It will be hosted by Lauren from our Knowledge Services team. She'll be answering your questions on Wednesday 23 October between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

  1. wightdancer

    wightdancer Registered User

    Mar 15, 2017
    34
    My wife has had dementia for 6 years and of course is slowly getting worse. Recently she has started to be unable to brush her teeth. She does not understand what she has to do and if I try to do it for her she won't open her mouth. She goes to the hygienist every 3 months and with some cajoling allows the cleaning there but really needs to clean them in between visits.
    Anybody got any ideas how I can accomplish this?
    Thank you
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,578
    Kent
    Hello @wightdancer

    Do you think your wife would accept an electric toothbrush? If not perhaps the Hygienist can advise you.

    I have no personal experience of this difficulty but others may be able to help and advise perhaps tomorrow.
     
  3. Dimpsy

    Dimpsy Registered User

    Sep 2, 2019
    188
    Female
    Tricky one to solve!
    All I can think of is what if you both clean your teeth together and make it a 'fun' thing to do.

    You could also try children's toothpaste, they come in different flavours, which will knock the traditional minty taste = teeth cleaning out of the window.

    I'm sure other people will have really good ideas to pass on.
     
  4. witts1973

    witts1973 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2018
    710
    Male
    Leamington Spa
    #4 witts1973, Oct 13, 2019 at 12:47 AM
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019 at 1:02 AM
    Hi you could ask the dentist next time you visit them,I brush my mums but she's been ok,the community dentist did suggest doing it while standing behind mum so almost as if you were doing your own,but placing your middle finger in the edge of the mouth to tease the lips open and going from there.
    You may find a childs size toothbrush may help once you get the mouth open
     
  5. witts1973

    witts1973 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2018
    710
    Male
    Leamington Spa
    I've watched one clip were a lady suggests rubbing the cheek in a circular motion by the mouth to relax the face and to establish that as a signal for teeth brushing,I have sent you a link to a teeth cleaning clip if that helps
     
  6. wightdancer

    wightdancer Registered User

    Mar 15, 2017
    34
    Th
    Thank you for the clip, very helpful. I'll try sitting or laying her down to do it.
     
  7. wightdancer

    wightdancer Registered User

    Mar 15, 2017
    34
    Standing behind her and using children's toothpaste is a good idea, i'll give it a go, thank you.
     
  8. wightdancer

    wightdancer Registered User

    Mar 15, 2017
    34
    Yes, we try a variety of toothbrushes, funny kids ones and electric but will now try sitting or lying down.
     
  9. witts1973

    witts1973 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2018
    710
    Male
    Leamington Spa
    Good luck,keep at it and I hope with a little gentle coaxing you may get there
     
  10. Juba

    Juba Registered User

    Jul 27, 2019
    25
    Thanks for the suggestions. My OH also has this problem and often uses the toothbrush to clean taps etc. - anything but his teeth! I've kind of backed off the dentist a bit as at our last visit we really struggled to get him to understand how to sit on the seat. He's got some problems with receeding gums so really does need to stay on top. We were having some success using mouthwash as a backup but even this has become a bit problematic. I'll try some of the ideas tho - thanks
     
  11. wightdancer

    wightdancer Registered User

    Mar 15, 2017
    34
    Yes, mouthwash was great but now she won't or can't gargle; if she sips it she drinks it and then pulls faces ( I would to...ha ha).
    Problem now is also getting her to take pills. If I manage to get them in her mouth she will just hold them and not sip water so eventually she spits them out. Using a mortar and pestle to powder them and sprinkle on food is very hit and miss as half of what I prepare she leaves or sometimes results in her refusing to eat as the food tastes funny. So I end up using more medication than is prescribed because lots gets wasted.
     
  12. witts1973

    witts1973 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2018
    710
    Male
    Leamington Spa
    Hi I had that problem too with pills with my mum she very quickly became unable to swallow them,speak to the doctor and they will prescribe them in liquid form,all of mums meds have been able to be prescribed in this way,don't grind them as medications can be delivered too quickly when you do that as they are no longer in the slow release form that they were when a pill.

    https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/medicines/can-i-crush-medicines-before-taking-them/
     
  13. jenniferjean

    jenniferjean Registered User

    Apr 2, 2016
    473
    Female
    Basingstoke, Hampshire
    Thanks, that's worth knowing about not grinding pills. My husband can still take his pills but he is beginning to hold them in his mouth for a while before actually swallowing. I do wonder sometimes if the neighbours can here calling "SWALLOW, SWALLOW, SWALLOW", they must wonder what I'm doing
     
  14. witts1973

    witts1973 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2018
    710
    Male
    Leamington Spa
    Haha,my neighbours wonder about all sorts of things too I'm sure,at our home I like to have a bottle of calpol which is a childrens medicine that contains paracetamol,it comes in a syrup form with a little syringe which you can use to position in the mouth and mum swallows that easily,I was directed to that by a pharmacist,it's handy to have as a little pain relief for any pains until you can speak to a doctor,if the person is able to take medicines containing paracetamol of course.
     
  15. dasntn

    dasntn Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    16
    North Devon
    This is becoming difficult for me. My wife brushes the left side of her mouth fairly well, but doesn't go to the right side. I am trying with manual and electric toothbrushes but she does keep her mouth fairly firmly shut. I've found the electric a bit better once she accepts it, as even with limited most opening I know that some brushing is going on.
    Our dentist has prescribed Duraphat toothpaste, which is high in Fluoride and gives better protection for the teeth, I'm told.
     
  16. shaktibhakti

    shaktibhakti Registered User

    Sep 5, 2016
    11
    brighton
    Ive noticed my mothers gums are getting bad at the top.ive mentioned it to the carehome and the dentist visited a few weeks ago and obviously checked and cleaned them. I think its a BIG problem with dessert after every meal nearly containing sugar [mum still not using much if any at all in her cups of tea!] and general biscuits with tea. my mother dosent alwasy eat them. she complained when she forst went there they were putting too much sugar in everything. Having studied macrobiotic diet/cooking I understand alszeimers is deadly combo with sugar in food. when i visit i see mums teeth usually have biscuit or something stuck in them....I will ask them if they can make sure she cleasn them before bedtime as well...I think she still knows how to clean them. I have noticed sometimes she gets confused with all kinds of things latley.shes advanced now with other health issues kidneys COPD, bad back and sometimes cannot walk much at all. This week she walked much better again so must be influenced by brain and not just physical health.
     
  17. sysrev

    sysrev New member

    Apr 25, 2018
    4
    I don't think lying down is a good idea because of the danger of choking. I had to give up trying with my wife at least two years ago - she would bite, scratch and hit if it was tried. I saw a post somewhere that suggested using certain foods to help keep teeth clean. One was cheese but I can't remember the other one (bananas?). Not even that works now and I have to use an oral thrush prescribed to help her mouth.
     
  18. sysrev

    sysrev New member

    Apr 25, 2018
    4
    I don't think lying down is a good idea because of the danger of choking. I had to give up trying with my wife at least two years ago - she would bite, scratch and hit if it was tried. I saw a post somewhere that suggested using certain foods to help keep teeth clean. One was cheese but I can't remember the other one (bananas?). Not even that works now and I have to use an oral thrush prescribed to help her mouth.
     
  19. ASPIRE

    ASPIRE Registered User

    Jan 9, 2014
    16
    cambridge
    Keeping the teeth clean is a problem l can only say keep trying to do it for her. l know its difficult to get your wife to open her mouth. Just keep talking to her coaxing her saying its good for her it will stop her having to go to the dentist. l know you must have tried this a lot. Ask another person to try and clean her teeth she may let them without any fuss. Good Luck
     
  20. Nutty Nan

    Nutty Nan Registered User

    Nov 2, 2003
    787
    Buckinghamshire
    The problem may be down to the fact that cleaning teeth becomes an abstract idea. What/why/how?? If someone else tries to do it, it may feel like an assault, which is scary and may result in aggression. One solution that may work is to take the activity out of the bathroom (we did it at the table), as gently as possible, perhaps with some upbeat music playing (and distracting from the activity). A very normal reflex to having a toothbrush or finger pushed into one's mouth is to bite down. Boots sell a finger shield, which may help with that (it resembles a large plastic thimble).
    Don't give up: oral hygiene is very important and makes your husband/wife feel so much better if it is kept up.
     

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