Caregivers need to understand the importance of dental care

Published 12:25 pm Sunday, September 4, 2016

Taking care of someone with a developmental disability requires patience and skill.

As a caregiver, you know this as well as anyone does. You also know how challenging it is to help that person with dental care. It takes planning, time, and the ability to manage physical, mental, and behavioral problems.

Dental care isn’t always easy, but you can make it work for you and the person you help. Everyone needs dental care every day. Brushing and flossing are crucial activities that affect our health.

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In fact, dental care is just as important to your client’s health and daily routine as taking medications and getting physical exercise. A healthy mouth helps people eat well, avoid pain and tooth loss, and feel good about themselves. Problem behavior can make dental care difficult.

Try these ideas and see what works for you:

•At first, dental care can be frightening to some people. Try the “tell-show-do” approach to deal with this natural reaction. Tell your client about each step before you do it. For example, explain how you’ll help him or her brush and what it feels like. Show how you’re going to do each step before you do it. Also, it might help to let your client hold and feel the toothbrush and floss. Do the steps in the same way that you’ve explained them.

•Give your client time to adjust to dental care. Be patient as that person learns to trust you working in and around his or her mouth.

•Use your voice and body to communicate that you care. Give positive feedback often to reinforce good behavior.

•Have a routine for dental care. Use the same technique at the same time and place every day. Many people with developmental disabilities accept dental care when it’s familiar. A routine might soothe fears or help eliminate problem behavior.

•Be creative. Some caregivers allow their client to hold a favorite toy or special item for comfort. Others make dental care a game or play a person’s favorite music. If none of these ideas helps, ask your client’s dentist or dental hygienist for advice.

Like everyone else, people with developmental disabilities can have a healthy mouth if these three steps are followed:

1. Brush every day.

2. Floss every day.

3. Visit a dentist regularly.

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All You Can Eat Dad’s Belgian Waffle Breakfast: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Austin Eagles Lookout Aerie 703, 107 11th St SE, Austin. Tickets are available at: The Arc Mower County Office, with members of The Arc Mower County Board of Directors and at the door on the day of the event. Advance tickets: $8 for adults or $5 for children (6-12). At the door tickets: $9 for adults or $6 for children (6-12). Children five and under are free. Take outs are available.