Dental hygiene is critical to general health. When the teeth and gums do not receive adequate care on an ongoing basis, risks for pain and several health concerns arise. Poor oral health has been associated with respiratory disease, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, and more. Additionally, a person whose teeth and gums are in poor health is likely to have breath that is off-putting. Individuals with Alzheimer’s face these risks as their cognitive health declines and caregivers need to know how to best support their loved one. Here, we discuss how to minimize oral decline in the Alzheimer’s patient.
We brush our teeth so frequently for so long that we may forget the various steps that are involved in this somewhat complicated process. You may brush your teeth without needing to think about each action, but a person with Alzheimer’s may not have this ability. Depending on the degree of cognitive impairment, it may be necessary to talk to someone through their brushing routine or demonstrate for them how to brush and floss.
Helping the Alzheimer’s patient with oral care requires flexibility. The best results can be attained when there are no hard-and-fast rules about when and where teeth get brushed and flossed. If necessary, brush after breakfast or in the middle of the day and in a location that makes the most sense for the patient. Sometimes, caregivers need to resort to cleaning teeth with gauze instead of a toothbrush if met with resistance.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s may benefit from seeing the dentist more regularly. Because mental decline can be an obstacle, routine care early after diagnosis is ideal. A dentist who is familiar with the effects of Alzheimer’s is better equipped to provide the level of care that is needed at every stage. Dr. Siegelman is a dental anesthesiologist with particular experience treating patients with cognitive disabilities. His awareness of Alzheimer’s has led to strategies such as minimal sedation and straightforward treatments that protect teeth for the longest possible period.
We are proud to offer sedation dentistry and personalized dental care for patients with Alzheimer’s, Autism, and who have been affected by dental anxiety. To schedule a visit to our NYC office, call (212) 974-8737.