While cognitive decline is something that happens to many of us in old age, there are steps you can take to prevent or slow the process. Proper dental care for dementia patients is key to slowing cognitive deterioration and a helpful tool to maintain overall health. Researchers have recently reviewed studies from 1993 to 2013, ultimately concluding that improper dental care and ailments such as cavities, tooth loss, and periodontitis are associated with a decline in cognitive function in later years.

How, exactly, are oral health and cognitive function related? Researchers have found that oral issues like periodontitis can become exacerbated among older adults with cognitive issues, as these people may forget to take proper care of their teeth. Without proper dental care for dementia patients, oral health issues become more severe and can cause an increase in harmful bacteria and inflammation in the body, leading to other ailments.

older woman smiling

If you recognize the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction in a loved one, pay attention to their oral hygiene habits and make sure that they are maintaining proper oral hygiene with the following habits:

Gental Reminders

Someone in the early stages of cognitive decline should be encouraged to maintain their own proper oral hygiene routine. Make sure to keep a watchful eye out, in case he or she forgets to brush or floss, and offer a gentle reminder. It is extremely important to establish a routine in the early stages of dementia.

Use New Equipment

If a loved one is having difficulty using a standard toothbrush, experiment with an electric toothbrush for ease of use. If needed, purchase one-time-use dental floss, or assist with flossing.

Incorporate Fluoride

Fluoride is excellent in helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Opt for a fluoride toothpaste, or ask your dentist for a fluoride treatment every three to four months.

Pay Attention To These Signs

Someone who is suffering from dementia may lose interest in proper oral hygiene and could suffer from oral health issues without ever speaking up about it. Pay attention to the following signs of oral issues in dementia patients:

  1. Pickiness with hot or cold foods.
  2. Not wearing dentures that have been previously worn.
  3. Rubbing or pulling at the mouth or teeth.

Never forget the importance of proper dental care at all stages of life, as a healthy smile supports a healthy body.