Updated August 2021
When acting as a caregiver, it’s necessary to recognize the importance of good oral hygiene for overall dental health. Here is a brief guide to the steps you can take to help someone keep their teeth and gums as strong as possible.
As a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do every day is help with brushing and flossing, especially if you are taking care of a senior or a disabled individual who can’t do it all on their own.
Before brushing or flossing someone else’s teeth, wash your hands thoroughly and put on a pair of disposable gloves. Always be gentle, let them know what you’re going to do before you do it so they’re prepared, and create a routine so they’ll know what to expect.
Note: Every brushing and flossing session is an opportunity for you to carefully examine the mouth. Check for sores and growths, signs of tooth decay or gum disease, and other indicators that a trip to the dentist or doctor is needed.
If you’re caring for someone who wears dentures, it’s important to take them out of the mouth daily for a thorough cleaning, including brushing and soaking them in a denture cleaning solution. It’s also a great idea to rinse them after meals to keep them as hygienic as possible. And if you ever notice that the dentures are damaged, let the dentist know right away.
Be sure to brush and rinse the individual’s palate, gums, tongue, and any natural teeth that remain after the dentures are taken out. If you want to be sure you’re doing everything right, you can certainly talk to a dentist to learn about the best ways to keep dentures and the mouth clean.
In addition to brushing and flossing daily, the person you’re caring for should see the dentist on a regular basis, and you can go with them.
At each visit, you can talk to the dentist about symptoms that need to be addressed. And you can take care of things like filling out paperwork and submitting insurance information or payments on behalf of the person you’re looking after.
Some people might need just a little bit of help with keeping their teeth and gums clean at home, while others might need you to do it all for them. Either way, the care you provide is extremely important and appreciated.
The key is to make sure the individual is brushing and flossing every day, as well as seeing the dentist often. And, remember, you can always ask a dentist for tips when you aren’t certain about how to get the best results.