Good Oral Hygiene with Dexterity Difficulties

Good Oral Hygiene with Dexterity Difficulties

Michelle Phillips, RDH


With one who has dexterity difficulties such as arthritis, there are several oral hygiene aids that can help.  There are things such as electric toothbrushes and flossers out on the market now to aid in good oral hygiene.

Electric toothbrushes come in an array of varieties, with the basic function all the way up to those with all the bells and whistles.  They can cost from less than $10,  and even go up to over $100.  Electric toothbrushes help those with a lesser ability to grasp small things like a manual toothbrush.  Most come with a substantially larger handle compared to the manual brush.  Another good feature of the electric brush is that the head will either oscillate or rotate, so all you have to do is literally hold the brush on your teeth and move it from tooth to tooth.  Other potential features of electric brushes could include a two-minute timer and pressure sensors.  Two minutes is the optimal time to brush.  Some electric toothbrushes will give some sort of pulsation when two minutes have lapsed, so that the optimal brushing time is achieved.  The pressure sensor is good for those that may have sensitivity due to gum recession.  This indicator will usually turn the brush off momentarily to let you know that you’re pressing too hard.


Flossers are aids to help someone floss without having to wrap the floss around your fingers.  There are disposable flossers and those that tend to be larger that you have to insert floss into.  An arthritic patient is a great candidate for these flossers, because you don’t have to hold the floss on your fingers and manipulate it in the mouth, you simply hold the handle instead.


Another option for those unable to grasp small things like the handle of a manual toothbrush is to cut a small hole in a tennis ball and insert the handle of the toothbrush.  With this, it’s much easier to grasp the tennis ball than the toothbrush handle.




One last alternative is to place a rubber band around the handle of the toothbrush, around the back of the hand, then back on the toothbrush handle.  This way, no grasping is required!



These are some useful alternatives to helping those that may have some dexterity difficulties with brushing and flossing.