After learning your dad has dementia, your family realizes your dad is going to need additional support in the future. Right now is a good time to start setting an oral care routine. The sooner he gets used to specific aspects of oral care at certain times of day, the easier it is for him in the future. Here’s what you need to do to get him used to a routine.
Pick Specific Times of Day For Oral Care
Get your dad as used to as consistent a routine as you can. He gets up and showers. Make it a routine to have him brush his teeth before he showers. Do this every day.
Set a consistent bedtime and make brushing and flossing the first step to his bedtime routine. While it may not matter in the early stages, a consistent schedule will help as the disease progresses.
Purchase Supplies He’s Excited to Use
Make sure you have oral care supplies that he likes or is excited to use. If he hates strings of floss and reaching into his mouth, consider dental floss picks or a water flosser. You can fill the water flosser with a fluoride rinse to help remove food particles and plaque from between his teeth.
Don’t Try New Flavors
As dementia worsens, don’t try flavors and expect your dad to love them. Things you know he likes, such as wintergreen, may no longer be appealing. Stick to the same toothpaste or mouthwash flavor he’s been using and don’t adjust it.
If he’s always used peppermint, stick to peppermint. If he’s always used spearmint in the past, stick to that. Switching flavors may lead him to not want to use a product, and that can make it hard to keep up an oral care routine.
Look For Recognizable Packaging
Finally, choose packaging he will recognize. If you choose products by color, he may start to mistake things like Windex for mint mouthwash. Choose packaging that is clearly identifiable in large lettering that states what it is.
Brand names may not be as good as generic when it comes to clearly stating what they are. A generic will focus more on the product over the brand name.
Talk to Him About Who He’s Comfortable Relying On
Your dad may not enjoy or even want you helping him with oral care. He has a sense of pride, and that will take priority. It’s often easier for him to have a trained personal care at home aide assisting with hygiene and grooming.
Remember that your dad’s personal comfort has to come first. Arrange personal care at home for oral hygiene, and let a caregiver help with brushing and flossing routines. While a caregiver takes care of that, you can work on other tasks like meals and bill paying.