Assistive technology is anything that supports you in doing a task that you might find difficult or would usually need help from someone else to do. It is incredibly important in maintaining independence, especially for elderly people, or people with disabilities, and it doesn’t have to be an overly complex piece of equipment – in fact, most AT used around the home is simple and easy to use!
Having good dental health and taking care of your teeth can sometimes be difficult for people with sensory issues or who struggle with fine motor skills or mobility but working with an occupational therapist and accessing the right AT, like our suggested solutions below, can make it easier to keep your smile sparkling.
Toothbrushes and Floss
An efficient toothbrush can help to clean teeth better and faster, and with extra angled brushes, this toothbrush is three times as good! The bristles wrap around the tooth to clean three sides at once, which not only means you are getting to hard-to-reach places in your mouth, but it also means that you won’t have to spend extra time brushing each side individually. This can be great for those with chronic fatigue or pain, issues with mobility, and sensory issues as it can reduce fatigue and lessen the amount of brushing time.
This finger shaped silicone brush fits easily onto your finger and has bristles on one end for teeth brushing. It is easy to use and means that you don’t have to grip or hold onto a toothbrush, and the wide bristle pad makes for easier teeth cleaning as well. It can be used on both adults, yourself, or someone else, or for children, and makes for a less daunting and more accessible way of brushing your teeth.
If you, your loved one, or client, experiences gum or teeth sensitivity, then these soft filament toothbrushes are a great alternative. The bristles are extra soft, while still giving the teeth a good clean, and are more sensory-friendly, and less painful on tender teeth or gums, than regular hard bristles.
While these swabs not a full replacement for a toothbrush, they are incredibly handy on days when regular tooth brushing is difficult. These disposable swabs have ridges on the head, similar to a toothbrush, and come in treated (with a toothpaste) and untreated versions. Simply take it out of the wrapper and run it over your teeth for a quick clean that will make your mouth feel fresher and cleaner.
Flossing can be difficult sometimes, but assistive technology can make it more accessible and easier to do! This handheld floss holder is reusable, and holds your floss securely so that getting in between your teeth is easier and less fatiguing. There is also a small mirror on the end for getting a closer look.
Getting that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube can be tricky - this easy-to-use plastic tool makes it much easier! Simply place the end of the tube through the horizontal slit and slide the tool upwards to get the toothpaste out. It can also be used on other products in similar packaging, such as lotions, gels, or creams.
This wall-mounted dispenser places toothpaste on your brush in one simple touch. Your toothpaste tube sits nicely within the dispenser, and touching your toothbrush to the level easily dispenses the paste for you. It is quick and easy to use, saves time, and can be a fun novelty for kids as well.
- Use an electric toothbrush
Electric toothbrushes can be more efficient than manual toothbrushes, and clean teeth better and faster. Due to the circular motions and motor, they also reduce the need for excessive movements in the arm, which can be beneficial for those with mobility issues. Depending on the person, the buzzing sensation may be a negative sensory experience.
If you, your loved one, or client, experiences sensitivity to noise and/or the sensation of teeth brushing, wearing noise cancelling headphones can help to block the noise of a manual or electric toothbrush. While they can’t dull the physical sensation of a toothbrush, they can reduce other sensory inputs and allow for a calmer environment and experience.
- Use alternative dental health products (occasionally)
While the continued use of dental health products, like mouthwash or calcium chews/tablets, in place of toothbrushing, is not recommended by dentists, occasional use when fatigued can help to make your mouth feel fresh and clean. Mouth wash and calcium chews can be used regularly with regular toothbrushing to eliminate bacteria, but please speak to your dentist first.
Mint toothpaste, while a common and refreshing flavour of toothpaste, can be overwhelming for those with sensory needs. More flavours of toothpaste are becoming available and more accessible, like fruit flavours, or even tasteless toothpaste, which can be a better experience for those who don’t like the taste or sensation of mint.
- Chat to your Indigo occupational therapist or dentist