What if I can’t hold a toothbrush?
Q. My husband has been dealing with Parkinson’s Disease for a couple years and I’ve noticed lately that it is getting harder for him to grip things like forks and toothbrushes. What can I do?
A. Complete and regular removal of plaque is the single most important factor in preventing dental disease. Many patients, and not just elderly patients, have difficulty keeping up with proper oral hygiene due to a lack of manual dexterity.
In the past, many have tried ways to make the traditional tooth brush easier to grip. One popular method involves putting a tennis ball on the end of the toothbrush. While this may make it easier to hold on to, many are still not able to maneuver the brush well enough to get their mouth properly clean.
And if brushing is difficult, flossing is normally an impossibility. There are many floss alternatives on the market that can be effective but, again, if holding a toothbrush is a problem, these will be of little use.
Thankfully, there are solutions. There are a large number of electric tooth brushes on the market that have large handles that are easier to grip. More importantly, these brushes enable the user to avoid fine hand movements by simply holding the brush next to the teeth and letting it spin, scrub, or vibrate their teeth clean.
In addition to powered toothbrushes, there are also a few gadgets made by Waterpik that shoot a fine, steady stream of water to wash between teeth. While these products do not replace the need to floss for most people, they can be a helpful adjunct for those who have trouble manipulating floss.
The key to maintaining optimal oral health is regular and complete removal of plaque from the teeth and supporting tissues. Talk to your dentist about your particular situation and let them help you put together a personalized plan to maintain your oral health.