There are a staggering 50,000 new stroke cases each year in Canada, with an estimated 300,000 people currently living with the effects of the condition. If your loved one has experienced a stroke, it can be difficult for them to perform many everyday tasks, including maintaining oral care and hygiene. This is why it’s essential to provide them with support and assistance to protect their oral health.
Let’s delve into common problems associated with poor mouth care for stroke patients and how you can help your loved one in the process.
How a stroke can affect the mouth
Strokes can cause paralysis and affect coordination, which is why it can be difficult for your loved one to function as usual, which is why they may experience difficulty maintaining their mouth care and other hygiene routines. Research suggests there could be a link between poor oral hygiene and an increased risk of getting aspiration pneumonia, a leading cause of death for post-stroke patients.
This concept is known as the mouth-body connection. The idea is based on scientific research that shows that poor oral hygiene can seriously deteriorate the health of other parts of the body, such as the lungs and the heart. There’s even research that shows that dental problems can potentially cause strokes in the first place.
Therefore, it’s paramount that you, as a caregiver, help your older loved one stay on top of their oral hygiene and lend a helping hand if they’re not capable of doing it themselves. This ensures that they stay healthy post-stroke while they recuperate.
Oral hygiene care tips for caregivers
The stroke recovery process is vital to getting your loved one back to their previous state. It can take from several weeks to many years to fully recover from a stroke, so you should be aware that the process might be a long-term commitment.
Before you commence, always consider whether you have the appropriate training to conduct oral hygiene care for an older loved one, especially if they’ve suffered from a severe condition like a stroke. You can find information online on how to get the proper training, or it might be prudent to hire an external caregiver to take care of your loved one’s personal care needs.
Oral hygiene isn’t just about brushing the teeth. It also concerns the gums, tongue, and general mouth area. For instance, many practitioners highlight that stroke patients suffer from dry tongues and thick mucus after having the stroke. To help combat this, here’s a list of tools and knowledge you should have ready:
- Appropriate materials: Toothbrushes, mouthwash, tongue scrapers, floss, and other tools that will help you carry out the oral hygiene routine
- Placing your loved one in a safe position: Always ensure that their airways are clear and that they can breathe naturally
- Use fluoride toothpaste: If possible, use fluoride toothpaste or chlorhexidine gel to ensure the mouth is treated appropriately
- Rinse thoroughly: Rinse the mouth properly and remove residue after the cleaning process
- Be gentle: Brush gentle with a soft-bristled brush so as not to irritate the gums or inside the cheeks
When dealing with dentures, remove them safely and thoroughly clean them. Ensure that any product used is cleaned and removed before placing the dentures back in the mouth.
Create an oral hygiene routine
Nurses will tell you that an oral routine is essential for recovery. Make sure that you stay consistent with it and communicate its importance to your loved one. They might become frustrated or find the process uncomfortable, but it must get done.
The best way to make the process easier is to identify a good time to conduct the routine. Note that you might have to apply gels and other disinfectants multiple times per day, so be prepared to make time for each treatment in your schedule.
What you should try to achieve
Essentially, you should be looking to maintain oral health to avoid bacteria buildup and other issues that can cause inflammations and infections. As previously mentioned, bacteria buildup can potentially lead to aspiration pneumonia.
A buildup of yeast and bacteria in the mouth can also make it difficult for your loved one to brush their teeth or wear dentures, which is also why having a hygiene routine is vital to their overall health and well-being.
Addressing lifestyle habits that affect oral health
Finally, to improve hygiene, help your loved one cut out patterns that can be detrimental to their oral health. Depending on the severity of their condition, your loved one might continue with bad habits that might have contributed to the stroke in the first place. This includes cutting out unhealthy soft drinks, smoking, alcohol, and too many sugary foods.
You should continuously remind your loved one of the importance of maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. If they aren’t physically capable of handling this responsibility independently, they will rely on your help and support. Good mouth care for stroke patients ensures that they are in the best position to recover as quickly as possible.
Reliable, professional stroke recovery care in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton
Caring for a loved one who’s recovering from a stroke is a noble act. However, there may be times when you could use professional support to ensure that your loved one gets the best care possible.
When you need us, CareHop can help. Our team believes in the right for everyone to recover from illness or injury at home surrounded by love from family and close friends. Our respectful, empathetic healthcare services help support that philosophy.
Our team specializes in providing 24/7 on-demand or live-in respite care with registered experts who specialize in nursing care. Our services are tailored to promote independent living for everyone we care for.
Carhop caregivers are fully trained and qualified to provide exceptionally compassionate care with encouraging smiles and happy demeanours. We always strive to bring joy and sunshine into your loved one’s home during their recovery journey.
If you have any questions about our specialized home and elder care services, please reach out to us anytime.