How do I manage my husband’s dental care when he is so resistant about going to a dentist?

The absence of good oral care can lead to gum disease, sores, difficulty in eating, oral cancer, systemic disease, including heart disease, diabetes and gastric distress.

Most individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are prone to factors that make teeth and gums more susceptible to disease, so it is important for the affected individual to receive good oral care.

It has been estimated that 9 to 15 percent of Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. Having Alzheimer’s magnifies that fear and anxiety, accompanied by trepidation of the unknown and apprehension about the dentist or dental office.

Familiarity can breed assurance, so make sure your husband is comfortable with the dentist you are using.

The dentist should be willing to work with an individual with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and he/she should have a gentle approach, which is crucial in gaining trust and confidence from your husband.

The dentist should give short, simple instructions and always stop when your husband gets too anxious or says, “no.”

Try scheduling the appointment at the time of day your husband seems most amiable and don’t disclose you are taking him to the dentist too far ahead of time as this can cause great uneasiness. Make it an outing, and guide him into the dentist office with much reassurance and gentle persuasion.

Bring one of his favorite snacks for him to enjoy afterwards.

It can be helpful to have a warm, heavy blanket for while he is in the chair and play soft music.

Many dentists have televisions, which could be a distraction while the dentist works.

The primary care physician may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, which may be helpful.

Questions? Contact Dana Territo, director of services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.