Alzheimer’s Disease and Dental Care

The tragedy of Alzheimer’s Disease doesn’t mean Alzheimer’s patients (and, other patients with other forms of dementia, such as Parkinson’s Disease dementia) can’t maintain good dental care.

As with other issues with those suffering from dementia, reminders to take care of chores often includes reminders to brush their teeth. Care givers know so many routine things flow to them, such as scheduling regular dental checkups, making sure toothbrushes are still useable, and the right kind of toothpaste is being used.

At some point, care givers may take over the cleaning of the dementia patient’s teeth. The professional staff at Dr. David Dersh’s office can assist care givers learning how to effectively clean someone else’s teeth.

Often, dementia patients know something is “wrong,” but can’t tell someone a problem has arisen. That’s why mouth checks by care givers and dental professionals are important so the patient can be examined for damage to teeth, gums, or the tongue, such as by biting.

Look for signs of dental problems in dementia patients, such as a rubbing or touching by the patient of their cheek or jaw, moaning or shouting out, head rolling or “nodding,” or flinching when washing the face or being shaved. The refusal of hot or cold food or drinks is a sign of possible trouble, along with restlessness, poor sleep, increased irritation or aggression, or a refusal or reluctance to put in dentures when previously this was not an issue.

Care givers should know there is never a hesitation by anyone in Dr. David Dersh’s office to provide regular dental care to patients with any type of dementia. Every patient is precious; our goal is to provide the highest level of care to everyone. Care givers often unnecessarily worry about anxiety in dementia patients being in the dentist’s office and they may be uncooperative, or have concerns the patient may become upset on the way to the dentist’s office. These worries should never be a concern; the first concern is for the overall health of the patient, including dental health. Dr. David Dersh and staff are well prepared to work with any patient, no matter what the level of dementia.

Care givers should feel free to call the office and discuss any individual situation, and the staff can help prepare the care giver and patient for the trip to the dentist. Patient care and good dental care are the first concern.