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Stories

Oral health tips for caregivers

Do you take care of a parent or someone needing support with their care? If so, remember that a healthy mouth can help them enjoy food, chew better, eat well, and avoid pain and tooth loss.

Plaque puts a healthy mouth at risk. It can collect on teeth that aren’t brushed well. The buildup can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Some individuals need to be reminded to brush and floss teeth. Others may need help actually getting it done.

You can take steps to help make brushing easier

For example, try a power or multiple-sided toothbrush. You can also modify the toothbrush handle to make it easier to hold.

If you are providing support, remember to wash your hands and wear disposable gloves before you begin. Use the “tell-show-do” approach. Tell them what you are going to do, show them, and then do what you’ve described.

Regular dental visits are important too. At a dental visit, you can ask for ways to help the person you care for.

The National Institutes of Health has a series of fact sheets to help caregivers learn more about protecting oral health in older adults.

Article adapted from the National Institutes of Health November 2018 News in Health.