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Teeth Brushing

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    Teeth Brushing

    This seems rediculous to ask but very curious all the same.
    How do carers brush their partners/patients teeth? On the border line of stepping in with the daily task, so wondered if you use a normal toothbrush or electric and do you just 'go for it' or is there a technique? Do you do it over a bowl? Or simply over the sink? (as I wouldn't want to cause choking or anything with putting the head back). Clueless.

    Hi Tess,

    You should find this information helpful.

    Best wishes,
    I’m going to do this even if it kills me!


      Thanks Barry! I'll check this out


        Hi Tess and welcome to the Forum.

        It's most definitely not a ridiculous question !!

        I'm the teeth brushing recipient, not the (poor) brusher but this is how we manage:

        I have no useful arm / hand function, swallowing issues and a weak neck.

        I sit in the shower chair/commode by the sink, with enough room beside me for the carer to crouch down or stand, whichever they find most comfy. Teeth can be brushed anywhere that suits both people: whilst sat up in bed using a bowl, at the side of the bed with a bowl, in the shower with a bowl etc.

        We find an electric toothbrush much easier as it does most of the work and use a tiny bit of toothpaste. If strong minty flavours catch his/her breath, use a mild/children's toothpaste.
        We put the brush at the very back of each tooth surface (outside, inside, chewing surfaces) and work systematically to the other side. This means I know what to expect and don't get any nasty surprises, which might make me gag.
        I lean forward over the sink and take the merest sip of water to rinse - I don't have much froth left in my mouth anyway because of the small amount of paste used.
        I can't hold my head up high, nor for long, so take a breather halfway. Incidentally, it'd be dangerous for me to have my head held fully upright due to my impaired swallow.

        I hope you find a routine that works for you both.

        Stay safe.

        Love Ellie.
        ​Diagnosed 03/2007. Sporadic Definite ALS/MND Spinal (hand) Onset.
        Eye gaze user - No functional limbs - No speech - Feeding tube - Overnight NIV.


          Hi Ellie,

          Thanks for the detail there. It's good info coming from a recipient so I know what absolutely not to do. Each day is a learning day.

          Currently he uses an electric tooth brush but becoming too heavy for him to use, so more than happy to get tooth brushing onto the resume

          Love your wee monkey icon- adorable!



            Hello Tess,
            My speech and language therapist recommended a soft toothbrush to gently apply mouthwash to the top of teeth and gums about an hour after the toothpaste that will help protect, I can’t swill fluid around my mouth so brushing it on is best to keep the risk low for him choking or swallowing, see what works for you both


              If using an electric toothbrush, don’t switch it on until it’s in the mouth! One of my carers learnt the hard way!!!


                Aww, but that's the fun bit Miranda
                ​Diagnosed 03/2007. Sporadic Definite ALS/MND Spinal (hand) Onset.
                Eye gaze user - No functional limbs - No speech - Feeding tube - Overnight NIV.


                  hahaha, we've already learned the hard way... Least both of our faces were minty fresh by the end of the experiment.


                    Do you know, I never even considered mouthwash...that might also be a good shout. Thankyou.


                      Can I just add that I'm ace-ing the teeth brushing now. Practice certainly makes perfect, or so I'm telling myself anyways hahaha!

                      I maneuover the brush around his mouth and I announce where I'm going next for no surprises as I've learnt he has sensitive gums (who knew). This is of course is when he isn't laughing at the faces I'm pulling, as laughter and teeth brushing don't go well together.
                      if there's a day he's super tired (although I'm doing the brushing) we opt for the mouth wash.

                      Just thought I'd share in case any other carers want a free tip. Squeaky clean results.


                        Thank you, everyone, for all the very helpful information.

                        I can still use an electric toothbrush, but brushing durations are rapidly reducing due to a frightening tendency to gag after ten seconds or so.

                        Diagnosed April 2017


                          I just came across this thread where I asked about teeth brushing back in May and as a progression measure to look at this post, my goodness what an eye opener.

                          So I started by holding my hand round his, as the electric toothbrush was too heavy, so I would take some of the weight. Then we moved on to me brushing his teeth and helping him rinse in the bathroom. And now I take a bowl to him as he would struggle to stand by himself for that time period and I brush then he spits into the bowl, followed my two sips of water from a shot glass to rinse.

                          Looking back at a post is seemingly a good indication of progression. I feel when I'm with him non stop I don't notice much progression as we just go with it and adapt accordingly, but that one simple task since May has changed twice. Madness!


                            Tess, I've kept a log of how my illness has progressed in terms of what I can and can't do. The MND consultant found this very useful to gauge my deterioration. I find that my memory is not very good at remembering how I was six months or a year ago.
                            Each day is made easier with a bit of humour.


                              That's a good idea Gary. It's impossible to remember everything.