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Quick Tips for Assisting Individuals to Keep a Healthy Mouth

Woman at the dentist.

Learn how to assist individuals to keep a healthy mouth. Here are a few quick tips for when the individual requires more support. Print the full list of tips here!

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  • Make brushing and flossing a happy experience. Explain to the individual how you are going to help them to brush their teeth and gums. Use the communication that best fits the individual. This might include plain words, gestures/signs, pictures, or objects that will help them understand.
  • Create an environment that works for the individual and you. Make sure the person is relaxed and comfortable. Remember it can be scary and unpleasant to have your teeth brushed by someone else. Take your time, brush slowly, and stop for rests.
  • Usually, it is best to stand behind and slightly to one side of the individual. Some people like to sit in front of a mirror so they can see what’s happening.
  • Help the individual to brush their teeth two times a day. Use a small, soft toothbrush, and pea-size amount of standard toothpaste. Brush the teeth in a circular motion from the gums to teeth. Replace the toothbrush at least every three months. An electric toothbrush could be used, but should be introduced gradually. 
  • Be consistent and keep to a routine. Explain any changes so the individual knows what to expect.

  • Encourage the individual to participate. Give the person as much control as possible to build dignity, trust, and respect.

  • It doesn’t matter if the individual cannot rinse or spit out. It is not harmful to leave some toothpaste in the mouth.

  • Bleeding gums can be frightening. The gums will bleed if they are unhealthy. The only way to make gums better is to brush bacteria away.

  • Look for changes as you are brushing and flossing that may indicate an unhealthy mouth.

  • Try to keep all sugary foods and drinks to meal times. Sugar causes plaque and germs to build up on teeth.

  • Find out what equipment or adaptations may be helpful.

  • Use proper infection control procedures, such as hand washing, wearing gloves, and storing brushing and flossing supplies properly after each use.

  • Know the person’s dental health plan and follow it.

  • Most importantly, be positive and be persistent in supporting individuals to have healthy, happy mouths!
Last updated on Fri, 03/07/2014 - 13:13