A visit to the dentist: how to get it right

Dental hygiene is important for everyone, but can be a challenge for someone with dementia. Dementia friendly dentists are available and, under NHS guidelines, are given longer to deal with someone with dementia. For more information on Dental treatment for people with special needs click here.

A friend who is supporting her mum with dementia, who lives in Bromley, shared with us her recent experience of taking her mum to the dentist –

“For a several years visits to the dentist have not been good.  As soon as the chair was tipped straight back Mum would start to panic, wave her arms and legs around and make a lot of noise.  The dentist barely looked in her mouth, would sit her up and say good girl, off you go!  Previous to that, she would get very panicky with the sucker and water squirting thing in her mouth if she had to have a filling.

I found a new dentist, though was still dreading taking mum, but:

The dentist was amazing. In fact, all of the staff made a fuss of Mum. The dentist made friends with Mum gave her lots of compliments and sat down and chatted with her. There was no rush at all. She explained what she was going to do and got Mum really relaxed.  She did a good inspection and two x-rays. Prescribed some special toothpaste and we were asked to come back on Friday to see the hygienist. The dentist said if Mum does not like it then she can stop it whenever she has had enough and not to worry about it. She really was a lovely dentist – I want to change to her!!!!

So, as we left, Mum said to her this is a really nice place to come and get my hair done – everyone just smiled happily at her. On the way back to the car she said well that is definitely the place to come and get your eyes done and then as we got home she asked if those people in the waiting room were all waiting to see the vet!!!  When I left her she said she had enjoyed her afternoon and we must do that again. I think we can safely say it was a successful visit to the dentist.

On Friday, the second trip to the dentist was a rip roaring success too!!  I just can’t believe how well this all went. I was unable to park so close so had to use the wheelchair as soon as I arrived on the front path a nurse was out to assist. She took Mum in leaving me to deal with the chair. The waiting room was very busy and she got Mum seated and was chatting to her. She said that the hygienist was running late so we sat for about 15 mins during which time Mum wanted to know if everyone was waiting for the vet.

The hygienist was absolutely brilliant with Mum. She sat and had a chat to her told her what she was going to do and asked if that was all ok. I had warned them what would happen if the chair was tipped back too much so she took it back a little way and asked if that was ok and Mum said it was. She then asked if it could go back a little more and Mum agreed. This happened several times until Mum said could she come back up a little and that was not a problem. When the hygienist was happy that Mum was completely ok she had a look in her mouth. She gave Mum lots of praise for the way she has looked after her teeth and then told her what she needed to do. Rather than use the whirring water dispensing equipment she descaled them manually very slowly and very gently. Mum was so relaxed. After the descaling Charlotte explained that she would like to clean/polish Mum’s teeth. She showed Mum the brush switched it on so she could hear it, explained what the paste would taste like etc and Mum happily agreed for her to do it. I was completely amazed. Brilliant. After we got back in the car Mum said she was really nice, but she didn’t do much to my feet!

So going to the dentist can be that good.”

If you have any experiences of the dentist, please do share them.

June’s Oral History Project

June is in the process of setting up a small project to record the fascinating memories of some of our group members.

I spoke to June yesterday about her ideas and signed-up to be part of the work. Janet and I have been doing some work on oral histories with family and friends, this looks like a great next step to that work.

Thank you to Phil for telling us about oral history work. Capturing memories now, means they can be played back in the future, perhaps at a time when a person is less able to recall them.

If you would like to know more about the project see here

Dementia Friends session

I plan to run another Dementia Friends session on 18th April. The session will help you learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action. If you are interested in coming along please e-mail me on reflectionsgreenwich@gmail.com.


[Dementia Friends Champion]

You can find more information about Dementia Friends here.

7th February Friendship Group

Bingo arrives!

Thanks to Caroline for donating the state-of-the-art Bingo equipment and doing the calling at today’s session. Thanks also to David for testing out our cut-down version of a Beetle Drive (all Beetle, no Drive).

Another great turn-out today. We welcomed three new friends to the group and had 25 friends in total. There were seven members of the Reflections team to keep things moving.