geezer tooth care

My husband (w/advanced dementia) is refusing to brush his teeth–or have me brush them–more often than not lately :frowning:

I think the toothpaste is too strong tasting for him. I’m using Aim lately, which I like the taste of.

Anyone aware of a very mild-tasting toothpaste? Or techniques for brushing someone who doesn’t wanna? I ordered some dental swabs from Amazon–maybe I can use those with mouthwash?

I’ve been taking him for hygienist appts 3x/year, and am upping it to 4.

Last time he wouldn’t hold the bite-wings, so no more dental x-rays (no more any kind of imaging–he doesn’t understand English any more and won’t hold still long enough). I’m just hoping he will remember to “open wide” for the hygienist and dentist. Luckily it’s been years since he needed any dental work, but I fear that golden time may be ending as there’s no more flossing and very little brushing going on.

Medical care is difficult with advanced dementia! Last couple of times we tried to get blood for lab tests, he fought it. So no more blood work either.

Would he let you use just a soft brush?
Maybe wet it with water? Or his favorite juice or liquid?
I prefer a medium stiffness brush, and a medium size. What does he like?

I keep a toothbrush in the center console of my car, so that I can brush while driving.
No toothpaste.
No water - as I brush, saliva provides lubricant.
This is likely the most thorough brushing I do, cause I’ll spend several miles on each “section”.

Toothpaste MIGHT make some difference… but, it might also just be “marketing”?


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Colgate regular , no crap added for whitening and brightening and sodium bicarb… mild tasting…

Electric tooth brush? Tell him it’s a massager…

Floss picks…makes it easy to get food out. A lot easier than flossing with long piece of string.



Walmart sells them…a couple bucks for a 100 of them. Can use each one a couple times…


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Would he let you use just a soft brush?
Maybe wet it with water? Or his favorite juice or liquid?

He has a soft brush (we get them from the dentist when we get our teeth cleaned). Really it wasn’t so many weeks ago that he enjoyed my cleaning his teeth with his electric toothbrush. He’s going downhill fast this spring.

I will try it without toothpaste tomorrow, thx for the suggestion.

Colgate regular… mild tasting

huuh…I grew up using Colgate :wink: I switched when I got my first electric and needed to change to a gel.

Electric tooth brush? Tell him it’s a massager…

If he understood English, that might work :-/

Floss picks…makes it easy to get food out. A lot easier than flossing with long piece of string.

He only lets me floss with anything if he has food stuck. I have something similar to what you indicated (Plackers) and also “CHristmas trees.” I usually use a tree or placker in the morning and floss at night. I hate unclean teeth!

You really don’t need toothpaste…it’s the business end of the toothbrush that disrupts the plaque biofilm (although I couldn’t go pasteless routinely) There are some pastes I can’t stand the taste of so trying different makes as an experiment might help. You can bet someone makes flavourless toothpaste so Google might be your friend here to cut down on trial and error.

Using juice would be a seriously bad idea. It’s unlikely you’re doing an adequate enough job to get your husband’s teeth completely plaque free given the circumstances. Feeding those cariogenic bacteria directly with the sugar in the juice would give a nice boost to their cavity forming capacity.

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You really don’t need toothpaste…

But an anti-bacterial mouthwash can be valuable. If you can find one he can tolerate you might try dipping the brush in it as the brushing goes along.

Instead of mouthwash, go for the heavy duty stuff like gin and he can swallow that.



Almost forgot (obviously getting out of practice at this)…a toothbrush with a small head will make it much easier for you. Baby sized even. Only remembered as I was brushing my granddaughter’s teeth this morning at their house. All her toothbrushes are too big for ease of use. I bought a bundle from Tom’s of Maine that are nice and compact and ultra soft for use at Grandma’s house(she doesn’t consider herself a baby and doesn’t want the baby logos)

Also, dipping a toothbrush in mouthwash with an acceptable flavour might be an option but, as you may recall from the many discussions on the topic on the H&N board over the years, using a mouthwash in lieu of a toothbrush is pretty much useless for plaque removal. Once that biofilm has formed (and it’s forming constantly) it requires mechanical removal.

I’d almost be willing to roll with the gin except it’s an acquired taste. Was my fave tipple until I decided to see if zero alcohol would have an impact on my Afib (it did). I inadvertently took a swig of my husband’s g&t instead of my own t&t a while back and it was horrible…Tanqueray as well! Tasted just like I remember it tasting first time I tried it.

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Livionex has less of a flavor punch than other toothpaste, but it’s pricey.

Have you tried one of the training toothpastes for kids? It seems like I remember some of them taste like Juicy Fruit gum instead of mint.

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Well I used to brush my little dog’s teeth……not really brush but had these little finger cots they made for it and used a pet toothpaste….light and easy. The trick is starting when the dog is young and making the handling…body, feet, ears, mouth…a positive experience. Praise and a treat, praise and treat, over and over again. End on a high note……no force or anger allowed.

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He’s been using Crest Pro-Health mouthwash for years. Most days–when I can brush his teeth–he will rinse with mouthwash afterwards. He’s usually confused if I try to give him mouthwash without brushing his teeth first.

I’ve started brushing his teeth with the mouthwash. Sometimes he simply won’t let the toothbrush in, though. And when he does, I get maybe 20,30 seconds till he yanks my hand out. Doesn’t matter how kind/smiley/sweet-talkin’ I am.

Who knows what’s going on in his head. He spends a fair amount of each day examining the grain in the wood floor, pattern in the dining room rug, chair molding on the great room wall, contents of shelves, drawers, closets…

Anyhow–YAY, I have a morning aide today (~9:30-12:30) who’s responsible for his showering, toothbrushing, etc. Nominally I have an aide 3x/week, which means that’s when I run errands, take a brisk walk, pay bills, make phone calls/do chores/read uninterrupted 3 mornings/week. I wanted a 4th morning, but neither of my aides has one available so I need to find a 3rd aide.

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I hired a 3rd aide–and now have 5 mornings a week “free.” I spent half the aide’s time yesterday doing housework/cooking, and the other half…at the beach!!! Got in a mile of beach walking (half in calf-deep water, half in sand) and the rest of the time sat and enjoyed the waves and the ocean breeze.


So glad to hear you were able to enjoy some relaxing time by yourself.

You most certainly deserve it. :slight_smile:

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thx, LM!

How are you & your husband doing?

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We’re doing fine…now. I had heart surgery last November followed with complications. I am
past the hurdle and go for cardio PT three times a week. Feel much better and much stronger.
DH has been my rock getting me through all this. Looking forward to a quiet summer, made no plans, not even for a day trip.

Astro, you have the strength and compassion of a Saint to do all you do for your husband. I know it is not easy for you and yet you never complain but you are happy when you can enjoy some time for yourself. That is a good thing.

Always think back to the time when you and hubby visited us in Wisconsin. It was a good time. I was in awe how your husband backed up your RV towing a car behind it up the hill to park it on our property.
It was like…WOW! Good memories to dwell on.


I’m so glad you’re recovering well from your heart surgery, LM.

I remember our visit fondly. Yeah, the hubster was a skilled person in numerous ways.

Actually, I do complain :wink: otherwise I might implode =8-0

I’m SO glad we retired early and traveled, visited people, attended live performances, ate out. Fun now is cheering when he takes his pills, cooperates with anything, eats meals without help, and manages to pee in a toilet instead of…anywhere else. Plus I’m having fun with my new Apple watch.


I think the toothpaste is too strong tasting for him. I’m using Aim lately, which I like the taste of.

I don’t know if it would help but kids toothpaste comes in some wild flavors like bubble gum, watermelon, or grape.

AC still catching up