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How individuals can help improve dental health of loved ones with dementia
Updated: 5/18/2011 9:00:02 PM

Elderly parents may need special care when it comes to cleaning their teeth In many families, parents teach their children how to brush their teeth, floss and use mouthwash properly, and they are typically the ones who hound their kids to take care of their teeth before they go to school or bed.

However, there comes a point in life when children grow up and the roles are reversed. These individuals may then be responsible for ensuring that their parents' teeth or dentures are cared for.

Some healthcare professionals at nursing homes are trained to assist elderly individuals who have dementia with dental hygiene, but seniors with declining cognitive function sometimes perceive oral care providers as a threat. This is why researchers have developed an approach called Managing Oral Hygiene Using Threat Reduction (MOUTh).

If a person has a parent who suffers from dementia, he or she can use several techniques that are part of MOUTh to help them maintain good dental health. Some of these include approaching the elderly person at eye level if she is seated, smiling while you interact and guiding her hand so that she may feel in control of caring for her own teeth.

"Poor oral health can lead to pneumonia and cardiovascular disease as well as periodontal disease," said lead researcher Rita A. Jablonski.

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