Oral hygiene in later stages

Discussion in 'Middle - later stages of dementia' started by MM'sD, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. MM'sD

    MM'sD Registered User

    Apr 4, 2010
    My mum has had alzheimer's for about 14 years now and now needs full time care. She lives at home with my Dad who also needs 24 hour care.

    She gets extremely anxious and distressed by personal care but her carers are lovely and manage things extremely well. But, Mum is now totally resistant to oral care and none of the carers has been able to find a way round this.

    She is not able to follow instructions e.g. to spit out mouth wash or toothpaste, and bites the toothbrush if they are able to get her to open her mouth etc. She will also bite if carer tries the baby 'toothbrush' that you put on your finger.

    Does anyone have any alternatives to try? Anything that is designed to be ok to chew or swallow. Or a gel that could be applied ...She has broken teeth and currently has an abscess which is being treated with antibiotics (which of course are really difficult for the carers to administer).

    Any advice would be really welcome. Thank you
  2. karaokePete

    karaokePete Registered User

    Jul 23, 2017
    N Ireland
    I don't know if they're still available but I recall seeing chewable balls in airport machines that were a substitute for brushing.

    May be worth asking at a pharmacy.

    I have a vague recollection of this being discussed before so it may be worth trying the search facility to see if you can find any old threads that may contain useful hints.
  3. love.dad.but..

    love.dad.but.. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    This became very difficult when dad was in later stages in his NH and some staff were more proactive in trying than others but I would estimate on average a reasonable clean only happened now and again. This included me trying when I visited...I found in the end the best I could hope for was heavily loading the brush with toothpaste and with prompting and manually helping if I could at least get some toothpaste in his mouth to swill around and most lijely swallow as he didn't have understanding to spit out...then that was better than nothing! I thought of the airport emergency type things but was told you have to be very careful if there is a risk of choking. If able to munch slices of apple with skin removed and eat cheese I read somewhere that both contain substances that act as a natural cleaner so in desperation I also went with that as dad could still eat those. Perhaps also have a look on your search engine to see if there are any ideas.
  4. love.dad.but..

    love.dad.but.. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    Had a quick google...apples as they are fibrous act as a natural teeth cleaner and although acidic...eating cheese will counterbalance that by neutralising the acidic helping to protect the teeth. Maybe helpful if all else fails
  5. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    The community dentist recommended these to prevent biting when cleaning teeth:


    Try a small soft toothbrush with a tiny amount of children's toothpaste on (a type which is safe to be swallowed). It's the brushing rather than the toothpaste that cleans the teeth so you don't need to use a lot. You can also get non-foaming toothpaste - ask at a pharmacy.
  6. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    I can tell from the rate at which toothpaste is used that my mother is not keen on teeth-cleaning. She is in a care home and the carers are experienced and diligent so I am sure they make efforts. Fortunately her teeth are fine but different matter if there are already problems. Maybe the dentist could recommend something?

    That's interesting - when I was pre-school I hated brushing my teeth and my grandparents had a rule that I either brushed my teeth or ate an apple. I always chose the apple. I never had any idea why the apple was an alternative - although let's be honest, I should have brushed my teeth!
  7. brioni

    brioni Registered User

    Apr 19, 2017
    Like your mother, my wife (whom I care for at home) has lost interest in teeth-cleaning. This surprises me as she was always a fanatical 3-times a day brusher but now seldom brushes at all, and gets quite angry with me when I remind her, usually saying that she has already done it (which I know to be untrue). Unfortunately her gums were already not in good shape and were too tender for effective cleaning by the dental hygienist. They now bleed daily and her breath smells. She will not eat more than 1/4 apple and does not eat cheese, so I am at my wits end to know what to try next.
    Any suggestions, please?
  8. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    Is mouthwash possible?
  9. The Daughter.

    The Daughter. New member

    Apr 26, 2019
    My dad is living with Alzheimer’s has been for 6years now! He is the same with his teeth! he is at the point where is teeth have started to fall out now! He will not let anyone go near his mouth but on a surprise visit to the dentist he let him take a look at his teeth - only to be told it’s gone too far now & there is nothing they can do, other than to remove them all!! We’ve tried mouth washes! Different Toothpastes in the past, so now it’s just a case of getting him on a good day and asking him to brush his teeth! sometimes we get lucky he always has mints to suck or chew on! We find the Best thing is not to apply too much pressure or you will just stress them out! Happy Dad is best xx
  10. brioni

    brioni Registered User

    Apr 19, 2017
    Thanks for this suggestion; unfortunately she has always hated the taste of mouthwashes so that's not going to work. Looks like she's going to finish up like The Daughter's dad!
  11. Orientate

    Orientate Registered User

    Apr 20, 2011
    You can obtain a toothpaste from the dentist. It is called duraphat 5000. You only use a small amount but do not bother about spitting it out. It has a high fluoride content. My dentist stated that eating normal food will help keep the teeth clean.
  12. PC128

    PC128 Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
  13. Mrs Badger

    Mrs Badger Registered User

    Oct 24, 2017
  14. Mrs Badger

    Mrs Badger Registered User

    Oct 24, 2017
    I was a dental nurse! But still struggle to help mum with her teeth cleaning.
    She has been in a home for a year now, we had a check up last year.
    I told them she was due and they do have a dentist who visits, but they said oh we only call them if there is a problem!
    I was shocked at this, and let them know, anything could be going on in their mouths.
    I read recently the CQC had been alerted re lack of dental check ups so things may improve it is their right to have a check up at least every year, six months even better.
    I clean mums teeth but her tooth brush usually ends up in her handbag, and is as dry as the Sahara!
    We can only do our best. Certainly don’t go putting your fingers in though.
  15. Country lady

    Country lady Registered User

    Dec 5, 2017
    I feel your pain . My H will swallow mouthwash - so that’s out . A quick brush with electric toothbrush is all I can get . I give him Sodium asorbate ( powdered Vit C ) in food which I believe helps . I used it for receding gums which I rubbed on & it healed them . Every stage of decline is so difficult..,. Loss of personal care is heartbreaking as he was so fastidious about his health & toilet each day.

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