Dentists have always been concerned that people with handicaps and limited dexterity have a greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease. To keep the risk at a minimum, we recommend a number of alternatives for our patients who are unable to grasp and manipulate a narrow toothbrush handle or follow through with other dental home care needs. Physical limitations needing adaptions are often due to arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or joint and nerve problems of the hands.
Most drug stores carry brushes with enlarged handles. But, here are some ideas you can use to improve the grasp of an ordinary manual or electric toothbrush whenever agility and dexterity are compromised.
- Wrap a thick washcloth around the handle, and secure it with rubber bands.
- Insert the toothbrush handle though small slits cut into a tennis ball or sponge.
- Wrap numerous, large rubber-bands around the handle to make it less slippery.
- Fit an elastic cuff or strap around the palm of your hand to hold the brush.
- If you have trouble manipulating dental floss, try using a Y shaped floss holder. The handle can also be modified the same as for the toothbrush.
Long handled holders are available if you cannot raise your arms or do not have use of your hands. With the toothbrush attached to it, you can clamp the handle in a stationary spot, and position the brush in your mouth by bending over. And, if you are not able to swallow or rinse your mouth, you can find brushes that have a suction attachment connected to an aspirator.
Retrieving a dropped toothbrush can be an issue when you have back problems. The answer to this dilemma is simply tying a string through the small hole in the end of your brush and attaching it to the toothbrush holder.
If you or someone in your family has any kind of disability (temporary or permanent) which interferes with good dental home care, bring it to the attention of your dentist. We can make suggestions and customize options to fit your specific needs. Remember, helping you implement effective dental home care techniques is one of the most important services a dental professional can provide.