Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that affects some older adults. People with Alzheimer's suffer from memory loss that grows more pronounced as time goes on. Alzheimer's can make it difficult for people to do simple tasks that seem easy to other people. It can even create additional challenges when it comes to dental care. Fortunately, a special needs dentist has the skills necessary to treat people with Alzheimer's. Here are four things this type of dentist can do:
1. Provide preventative care.
People with Alzheimer's are more at risk of developing tooth decay because they may forget to brush and floss their teeth. Frequent professional cleanings can keep decay and gum disease at bay. Special needs dentists can polish and scale teeth to keep tartar buildup to a minimum. This will hopefully lessen the need for treatments such as fillings and root canals.
2. Treat patients at home.
Unfamiliar environments can be upsetting for people with Alzheimer's, who may not know where they are. Receiving dental treatment at home can make the experience easier for patients. Some special needs dentists are willing to make house calls. Preventative treatment, such as professional cleanings, can be performed in the patient's home. More extensive procedures which require additional equipment will still need to be done in a dentist's office.
3. Carefully communicate with the patient.
People in the later stages of Alzheimer's have reduced mental capacity. However, their wishes must still be respected. A special needs dentist will do their best to help their patient understand what's happening during each step of their dental appointment. They will describe the actions they're taking and tell the patient why they're doing it. Understanding the purpose of a dental appointment can make Alzheimer's patients more comfortable. A special needs dentist will also make sure they have their patient's consent throughout the appointment.
4. Communicate with family members and caretakers.
People with Alzheimer's are usually assisted by family members and other caretakers as their disease progresses. These caretakers can provide helpful reminders and supervision whenever necessary. As people with Alzheimer's lose the mental acuity necessary to properly care for their teeth, caretakers can offer assistance with brushing and flossing. Special needs dentists can work with caretakers to offer helpful tips that will make this task easier. Dentists can also walk family members through a patient's overall care plan, informing them of any dental work that needs to be performed.