Home Contact

Teeth TLC

Key Tips for Carers


  • Oral Health Risk Assessment (Step 1)

    Oral Health Risk Assessment (Step 1)

  • Oral Care Plan - Monthly Review (Step 2)

    Oral Care Plan - Monthly Review (Step 2)

  • Daily Oral Care Record (Step 3)

    Daily Oral Care Record (Step 3)

Carers play a vital role in supporting individuals to maintain their oral health. Even for those with no natural teeth remaining, a regular oral care routine is essential for overall health and quality of life.

Carers also play a key role in monitoring any changes in an individual’s mouth, seeking advice from a dental professional should any concerns arise.

  • If the person you’re caring for has natural teeth:

    Explain to the person that you are going to help them brush their teeth. If necessary use simple words, gestures, signs, pictures or objects to help them understand.  

    Try to brush in a relaxed environment, ensuring the individual is comfortable. It can be unnerving to have your teeth brushed by someone else, so take your time, brush slowly and pause for breaks. You won’t always get the whole mouth cleaned in one attempt, however, with gentle perseverance, most people can become more comfortable with the process. Even if you cannot brush as thoroughly as you’d like to, simply getting toothpaste into the mouth is considered beneficial.

    Help the person brush their teeth twice a day using a small headed toothbrush with soft to medium strength bristles. It’s usually best to stand behind and slightly to one side of the person you are assisting. Ensure their head is supported and maintain eye contact. Some people also like to sit in front of a mirror so they can see what’s happening. Apply a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush in a circular motion from the gums to teeth.  

    Bleeding gums can often frighten carers, however, it’s important to keep brushing. A small amount of blood is usually just a sign that the gums have become unhealthy. Brushing is the best way to clean the bacteria away. Be sure to contact the dentist, however, if the bleeding persists.

    Replace the brush at least every 3 months, or sooner should the bristles become worn. An electric toothbrush may also be useful as you can simply guide it around the mouth and it will perform the brushing motion for you.

    Electric toothbrushes can also be useful for those who are able to brush on their own but have limited dexterity. An adapted regular toothbrush can also help. You can also try wrapping a regular toothbrush handle with a folded face cloth held in place with an elastic band to make it easier to handle.

  • If the person you’re caring for has false or no teeth:

    For those with dentures or false teeth, these must be cleaned daily to remove plaque and food residue. The general rule is to ‘Brush, Soak, Rinse'. Remove the dentures and brush them using a toothbrush with soft-to-medium strength bristles and either denture cream or antibacterial handwash and water. Avoid using toothpaste as this is too abrasive and will scratch the denture. Also, be sure to always clean dentures over a bowl of water or towel in case you drop them.  

    After brushing, soak the dentures in denture cleaner or antibacterial handwash and water. For dentures which have metal components, use dilute chlorohexidine to avoid corrosion. Finally, give the dentures a thorough rinse to remove any loosened food particles before returning to the mouth.  

    Dentists usually advise removal of the dentures overnight to allow the mouth to rest. If the dentures are removed at any time, they must be left in cold or room temperature water to prevent them cracking or losing their shape.

    Even for those with no natural teeth remaining, it’s important to maintain a regular oral hygiene routine to keep the mouth healthy and feeling good. Daily brushing of the gums and tongue with a soft bristled toothbrush and toothpaste will help remove food particles and any bacteria which may be present. This keeps the mouth clean, breath fresh and reduces the risk of gum disease and other common medical conditions.

    It’s also important to visit the dentist annually to check for signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer may affect the lips, throat or surfaces of the mouth, with over 80% of new cases are diagnosed in those over 50. If you notice any white spots, sores in the mouth or ulcers which do not disappear after 2 weeks, get it checked by a doctor or dentist. For advice about finding a dentist, click here.      

If you care for someone as part of your professional role, Health Scotland have developed a series of oral care plans which can be used to help you support their oral health. Adapted versions of these resources can be downloaded by clicking the images to the left.