When It’s Hard to Move & Grasp: Daily Oral Care Tips

Your oral health can have a direct link to your overall health, which is why it’s so important to develop and maintain a tooth brushing habit at any age.

But for seniors and people with disabilities that impair mobility, traditional tooth brushing may be difficult. The tips below may help.

Brush Your Teeth = Prevent Tooth Decay & Gum Disease

Our teeth and gums hold food debris and bacteria that causes plaque to build up. If this plaque is not removed daily, it attaches to the teeth and may slide under the gum line, leading to an infection in the gums known as gingivitis.

As gingivitis worsens, the infection damages bone and fibers attached to the roots of the teeth, eventually leading to more serious infections and loosened teeth. At this stage, called periodontal or gum disease, gums bleed easily. Should infection from an abscess or gum disease enter the bloodstream, serious health problems could result.

In addition, uninterrupted plaque growth can lead to tooth decay. When untreated, tooth decay can lead to painful infections of the nerve inside the tooth and an abscess may form. Treatment requires a root canal procedure or removing the tooth entirely.

That’s why preventative care is so important. Plaque can be easily removed if you brush with a soft bristle brush, use fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly.

Tips for Easier Oral Care

Example of a standard water flosser

Oral care can become more difficult if your mobility is impaired. You may even find that you need help to take proper care of your oral health. But whether you’re getting assistance or brushing on your own, there are some tools that can make the job easier.

Are You Having Trouble…

  • Using dental floss? Consider using floss holders or other alternatives
  • Gripping or moving a toothbrush enough to remove plaque? Consider using a battery-operated toothbrush (also see our Tips for Tooth Brushing)
  • Spitting or swallowing while brushing? Consider using a suction device while brushing.

About Suction Devices

Suction devices, which can be prescribed by your doctor and are covered by most types of insurance, can be especially helpful for people who are unable to leave their beds. If you use a suction device, you’ll also want access to a suction toothbrush that can be attached to the hose.

Made for long-term care, suction toothbrushes are reusable, and are a very affordable option, especially when compared to expensive disposables. They can be used to remove bad breath, reduce the risk of infection and help prevent aspiration, which can cause pneumonia.

Help Remove Plaque with Xylitol & Fluoride

Most regular toothpastes will create foam that may be difficult to manage and can cause choking. The most important part of brushing your teeth is the brushing, which is effective even without using toothpaste. As an alternative, you may want to use a non-alcoholic rinse after brushing instead of normal toothpaste.

Use a non-alcoholic rinse that contains fluoride.

It’s a good idea to make sure the rinse contains fluoride and also xylitol, an ingredient that may hinder the growth of plaque-causing germs. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that does not cause cavities and is also available in some gums and mints.

Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride treatment. For more information on xylitol or fluoride, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.

About the Author

Mary Prince
Oral Care Director, Prince Dental Marketing

The information on this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Tooth Wisdom® and Oral Health America do not recommend or endorse any specific dentists, products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned. See full Terms & Conditions.

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