Oral Care & Hygiene

We know that caring for a disabled child can be very challenging. We can help.

Brushing your teeth and oral care can be upsetting and uncomfortable - especially if you have a sensory processing disorder or do not understand why you need to brush your teeth in the first place. This can make oral care and teeth brushing a challenge for families and carers. It is a good idea to brush the teeth gently, avoiding vigorous brushing which may push the toothbrush too far back into the mouth.

Soft bristle brushes are preferable in many cases and can greatly reduce the discomfort some feel when brushing. Your dentist, health professional or occupational therapist should be able to advise you on the best solutions for you.

 

Unflavoured Toothpaste Many children and adults can find the strong taste of many toothpastes unpleasant. The foaming action of many toothpaste brands can also cause gagging and discomfort, leading to spitting. An unflavoured toothpaste, which does not foam can help solve some of these issues and make tooth brushing a better experience for both child and carer.

Finger Toothbrushes and Gum Massager Rubber finger brushes are used to massage the gums and brush the teeth, gently removing plaque while allowing the child to get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed. These are ideal for babies and young infants as well as those who need help in brushing their teeth.

Bug Brush This bug shaped tooth brushing aid is covered in bristles on both sides. When an infant chews and bites on the Bugbrush, the bristles massage the teeth and gums, removing any unwanted plaque or food. It is a good way of introducing an infant to brushing their teeth in a fun way.

 

Specialist Toothbrushes Angled or shaped toothbrush heads – by using a toothbrush with a different shaped head, it can be easier to brush the teeth with fewer strokes and clean both sides of the teeth at one time. This can be a better solution for those who find teeth cleaning stressful.

 

Dr Barman’s Superbrush. Available in three sizes, these brushes have two heads, set at an angle, so that both sides of the teeth can be brushed at the same time. Teeth are cleaned with fewer strokes, less time and less fuss.

Collis Curve Toothbrush This brush has curved bristles which arch over the head of the toothbrush. The bristles part in the middle when the brush is used, allowing both sides of the teeth to be cleaned. At the same time short bristles at the base of the head, brush the top of the tooth. Thus, both sides and the top of the teeth are cleaned simultaneously meaning fewer strokes are needed to clean the teeth.

 

 

Discomfort and an unwillingness to have their teeth brushed may be a sign of a dental problem or other medical issue. If you suspect this may be the case, then please seek professional advice.

 

Electric Toothbrushes For some the vibrating effect of an electric toothbrush can be soothing, although they will not suit everyone due to the noise.

Bigger Grips for Toothbrushes If someone has a weaker grip they may find it hard to grasp the toothbrush. A tubular foam grip pushed on to the brush handle would help. Increasing the width of the handle makes it easier and more comfortable for the person to hold, allowing them to brush their own teeth.

 

For those with sensory issues there are activities that can be used to help desensitise the mouth before brushing teeth, including sucking through a straw or blowing bubbles. Brushing teeth to a favourite tune, using a timer or having a countdown system may also help to develop a routine.

 

Further Information

www.autism-anglia.org.uk

www.sensoryintegration.org.uk

www.scope.org.uk/support/tips/hygiene