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woman helping Alzheimer's patient brush teeth

Brushing someone’s teeth is difficult
If you’ve ever tried to help someone with Alzheimer’s brush their teeth, you know it’s incredibly difficult.

Very few people are willing to sit quietly and allow someone else to stick things in their mouth. Think of how you’d react if someone tried to do that to you! They’re not trying to be difficult, it’s human instinct to resist.

Poor dental care leads to unwanted complications
However, if your older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia and can’t properly brush their own teeth, they’ll need your help. Otherwise, their dental health will suffer and that will lead to unwanted complications.

Aside from the health problems associated with poor dental health, can you imagine having to take your senior with dementia to get a cavity filled or tooth extracted? Nightmare!!

Dementia care expert shows how to brush someone else’s teeth
Teepa Snow is a leading expert in dementia care. She has impressive credentials and when you watch her videos, you can clearly see why she’s in such high demand as a dementia educator. She really knows what she’s talking about!

In this 2 minute video, Teepa shows how to successfully brush someone else’s teeth by calming and distracting those natural instincts to resist. She demonstrates on an audience volunteer and explains why her techniques work.

Teepa’s 3 key tips for brushing someone’s teeth
It’s best to watch this brief video to see Teepa’s techniques in action so you can use them yourself, but here’s a summary of her 3 key tips from the video.

  1. Stand on their dominant side — for example, it’s the right side if someone is right handed
  2. You hold the toothbrush, but they hold your hand that’s holding the brush. You’re controlling the motions, but since their hand is there, their brain thinks they’re doing the brushing themselves.
  3. Put your hand on that dominant side shoulder and apply gentle downward pressure while brushing. This takes their attention away from what’s happening in their mouth.

Why Teepa’s technique works
While she’s demonstrating, Teepa explains why these techniques help you successfully brush someone else’s teeth. She also shows the natural reactions that happen when you don’t use her techniques. Those natural reactions are what you’ve been fighting against if you’ve tried this before.

Bottom line
It’s essential for dental health and overall health to regularly brush your older adult’s teeth. But when someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia, they need help to brush their teeth properly. Teepa Snow’s techniques help you get that difficult job done with a minimum of fuss.



By Connie Chow, Contributing Writer and Founder of
Video / Image: Pines Education Institute of Southwest Florida
Photo of Connie Chow, founder of DailyCaring


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