Good oral health care

The most common concerns for a person with dementia’s oral health are: 

  • Xerostomia or a dry mouth, this is a common side effect of many medications and can increase the risk of: 
    • Tooth decay 
    • Candidosis (thrush) 
    • Ill-fitting dentures 
    • Gum disease 
    • Halitosis (bad breath) 
    • Loss of taste 

Someone in the early stages of dementia should continue to brush their own teeth and mouth, however: 

  • As dementia progresses prompts or visual reminders might need to be used to remind and persuade them to clean their teeth. 
  • Eventually the person may lose the ability, understanding or interest to continue to do on their own and a carer may need to take over part or this entire task. 
  • Toothbrush adaptions might useful to help maintain independence. 
  • If high levels of decay are experienced the dentist can prescribe toothpaste called Duraphat. It acts to help to prevent decay. 
  • A dry mouth can be relieved by taking simple steps like sipping water or sucking sugar-free sweets, your dentist might recommend or prescribe products such as rinses, gels, pastes or sprays that can help. 
  • Non-foaming and unflavoured fluoride toothpaste is sometimes needed as dementia progresses. We would recommend a product like oraNurse, it can be purchased over the counter but will need to ask your local pharmacy to order it in for you if they do not stock it. 

To maintain good Oral Health it is important to: 

  • Brush teeth twice a day, last thing at night and one other time: 
  • Use a small headed medium to soft textured toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste 
  • Spit out and don’t rinse the fluoride away after brushing 
  • Clean dentures daily: 
    • Brush using soap and water then rinse well 
    • Soak once a week with a denture cleaner, please follow your dentist recommendations for this 
  • We recommend the mouth is given some time without the denture, ideally overnight 
  • Visit a dentist regularly, as advised by your dentist 
  • If you are not registered with a dentist, you can find out about your local NHS Dentist by calling NHS 111 

Most people can continue to be supported by their dentist however should their condition reach a point that this is not the case their dentist can refer them to the Warwickshire Special Care Dental Service. 

Find out about the Warwickshire Special Care Dental Service.

Published: 30th May 2017