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Dr. Na Xu
Healthy Smiles Family Dental

2601 25th St., Suite 400
Salem, OR 97302

P: (503) 385-1185
F: (503) 339-1981

Caregiver Training Can Improve the Oral Health of Mentally Handicapped Adults

Posted on 4/13/2016 by Na Xu
An elderly woman suffering from a metal handicap receiving a dental exam.Good dental hygiene is important at any age, but when it comes to developmentally disabled adults, it can be difficult to ensure that these individuals are taking care of their teeth properly.

It can be challenging for caregivers to help developmentally disabled adults to brush and floss, but new research has suggested that extra training is needed in order to improve the oral health of this population.

Developmentally Disabled Adults Are at a Greater Risk for Dental Problems

People who are living with developmentally disabilities are at a greater risk for developing dental problems than the general population.

These individuals tend to have more cavities and are more frequently diagnosed with gum disease than others, and unfortunately, the end result could be an infection and tooth loss. Physical, cognitive, and behavioral problems with brushing and flossing are often the culprit.

About the Study
A study was recently completed by Tufts University School of Medicine and was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. This study surveyed about 800 caregivers - 75% of which were paid and about 15% of which were family members - of adults with disabilities who brought the person they were caring for into dental appointments during an eight-month period from 2011 to 2012.

This study found that family caregivers were less confident than paid caregivers with their ability to help the disabled individual with flossing and brushing helps. All caregivers were less sure about their flossing skills than brushing, and family member caregivers had less formal training than the paid caregivers.

The caregivers also recognized that the disabled individual had oral health problems like bad breath and chewing problems.

The main takeaway from this study is that caregiver training can go a long way in improving the dental health of disabled adults. By improving their skills at brushing and flossing while managing the behavioral issues of the person they are caring for, they could significantly reduce the number of oral health problems the individual experiences.

Please contact us if you have any questions about improving oral health.

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