Self-Care Toothbrush Tips for Special Needs

Maintaining good oral hygiene can be a challenge, especially if you have developed a health condition that makes brushing and flossing more difficult, or have been in an accident that created new limitations. Dental professionals want to help all dental patients keep their mouths healthy, and they offer these suggestions about oral hygiene.

Dental Brushing Tips

Problems in hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders can hinder a person's ability to brush and floss. While each situation is different, there are some suggestions that have been effective in making dental care easier:

  • Use a wide elastic band to attach the toothbrush to your hand for extra gripping power.
  • Attach a small rubber ball, a sponge, or a rubber grip to the toothbrush handle with strong tape. This enhances gripping power and is often useful when hand or arm movement is weakened or limited.
  • Use a longer wooden dowel, a ruler, or plastic rod to lengthen the toothbrush handle, wrapping it securely with strong tape. This longer length may help in more easily reaching your mouth.
  • Use an electric or sonic toothbrush.

Dental Flossing Tips

If limitations make brushing and oral hygiene harder, flossing may be an even bigger challenge. Depending on your limitations, try these techniques:

  • Use a piece of floss, about 18" long, and wind one end of floss around each finger instead of holding it. This will increase your grip and prevent the floss from dropping out of your fingers with each tooth you floss.
  • Hold the floss tightly and seesaw it back and forth between the teeth, instead of pushing the floss right through.
  • Tie the floss into a long circle instead of using one long piece, which may make it easier to hold and less likely to drop from your hands.
  • Try using a floss holder, available wherever oral hygiene products are sold.

By Danine M. Fresch, DDS

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Don't Forget to Floss!

Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay-causing bacteria can hide between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line.

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