Taking care of someone requires patience and skill. As a caregiver, you know this as well as anyone does. You also know how challenging it is to help that person with oral health care. It takes planning, time, and the ability to manage your loved one’s physical challenges. Oral care isn’t always easy, but you can make it work for you and the person you help.

You may have a parent, spouse or friend who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own. How can you help? These things are critical:

Brush every day. Depending on whether the person you care for is able to brush his or her teeth, you may need to take on the job of brushing their teeth yourself or modify the toothbrush to accommodate physical limitations to allow the person to continue brushing his or her own teeth.

Floss regularly. Some people with disabilities may find flossing a real challenge. You may need to do the flossing yourself or obtain aids such as floss holders or floss picks.

Visit a dentist regularly. Professional cleanings are an important part of maintaining good oral health. 

These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk to a dentist or hygienist who can provide helpful tips or a different approach. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause.

When you’re caring for someone who is confined to bed, they may have so many health problems that it’s easy to forget about oral health. However, maintaining oral health still very important to prevent other health issues. For example, bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause pneumonia. 

While caring for your loved one may be difficult, remember that it is important work and you are not alone. Tap into the many resources available that can help you navigate the challenges and be sure to take care of yourself, too.

Drs. Joe Passaro and Woody Wooddell opened the doors to their dental practice in Davidsonville, MD in 1981. In addition to caring for their patients’ general dental health, Drs. Wooddell and Passaro provide expert restorative and esthetic dental solutions. Visit their website at www.wpdentalgroup.com or call 410.956.5555 for more information.

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