Alzheimer’s Disease and Caring for Your Oral Health

Those with Alzheimer’s Disease will come to forget to perform their usual ritualistic activities, or just no longer see the purpose in them. This includes keeping up with their dental hygiene. Because Alzheimer’s occurs steadily, there are preventative measures and techniques that will make a lasting impression on their dental health. At Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry, our primary goal is to provide a complete dental experience with each patient’s individual needs in mind. 

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Categorized by memory loss, people with Alzheimer’s will gradually forget conversations, familiar places, and names and faces of loved ones. 

Changes in behavior associated with Alzheimer’s include:

  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Wandering
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen

Alzheimer’s and Dental Health

As dementia progresses, one’s oral care routine often gets neglected. With daily brushing and flossing being the best way to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, decreased attention towards oral health can invite dental diseases to develop. A consistent dental hygiene routine is especially important for elderly people who have dentures or other pre-existing dental conditions.

Dental Care for Patients with Alzheimer’s

Maintaining oral health is already challenging enough without memory issues further complicating the process. However, there are some techniques that you can use to help your loved ones care for their teeth if they suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. 

  • Explain dental care by breaking directions down into short and simple steps. Rather than telling someone to brush their teeth, walk them through the process starting from picking up the toothbrush.
  • Use a mimicking technique by holding the toothbrush and showing them how to brush their teeth. 
  • Gently brush the person’s teeth, gums, tongue and roof of their mouth at least twice a day. 
  • If the person wears dentures, brush and rinse them daily. Each night, soak them in a cleanser or mouthwash. 
  • Try different types of toothbrushes. Children’s toothbrushes are softer than adult toothbrushes. 
  • Floss regularly. Consider a proxabrush as an alternative.

Dental Treatment for Alzheimer’s

At Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry, we offer diode laser therapy to improve gum health. This non-invasive treatment kills harmful bacteria and helps to heal damaged gum tissue. The laser penetrates deep below the gumline to seek and destroy the bacteria that cause infections and inflammation. Laser therapy is quick, effective, and completely painless. 

Scheduling frequent dentist appointments for professional cleaning and laser therapy can help prevent the tooth decay and oral diseases that might occur with Alzheimers. Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry in Glendale specializes in preventative care, as well as diagnosing periodontal diseases. Contact us to make an appointment today.

Photo by Tatiana Zanon on Unsplash