Thursday, June 16, 2016

Caregiver's Guide To Oral Health For The Disabled

Are you a caregiver to a disabled/special needs person? I  personally have helped take care of my grandfather a few years back even though it was just for a few hours on a Sunday, I can say it was still very challenging. I can only imagine what it was like during his morning routine trying to get him showered,dressed and most importantly taking care of his oral health needs.

Oral tasks, like brushing and flossing can be very difficult if the person is unable to help you.  Below are a few tips on making brushing and flossing easier:

  • Determinate what position will work best depending on the persons general health such as laying on the couch/bed, sitting on the floor with head laying in your lap or even sitting straight up in a chair. Whatever location you choose, you will need to adjust accordingly. 
  • Stabilize the persons head with pillows or if standing behind them you can wrap your free arm around their head and cradle the chin with your hand.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the chin with your four fingers placed on the mandible (Jaw bone) and your thumb should be retracting the lip. You can also make a mouth prop using a rolled up soft cloth or gauze to help keep the mouth open.
  • Make sure you wear protective clothing such as a face shield/safety glasses, gloves and disposable gown. 
  • Items to have near by in case you need to use them: flashlight, bulb syringe, basin, cup and towel. 
  • Brush and floss the persons teeth like normal. 
  • Things to be aware of: 
    • Be very careful of the persons airway and avoid aspiration of water or toothpaste. If you are concerned with aspiration of fluids you may want to purchase a toothbrush that has a suctioning device attached. 
    • Try to avoid regular toothpaste - Try buying non-foaming and indigestible toothpaste.
    • Use small amounts of water.
Everyone deserves a beautiful smile, people with special needs/disabilities are no exception!

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