If you regularly perform caregiving duties for a relative who has great difficulty leaving his or her home, you've likely already developed a number of "hacks" and shortcuts to help bring the services of the outside world to your relative. From in-home nursing care to speedy delivery of groceries or prescription medication, you may be able to provide a fairly comfortable lifestyle to your relative despite his or her mobility issues. However, when it comes to obtaining necessary dental treatment for your loved one -- or even a routine cleaning to prevent damage or decay down the road -- you may find yourself stymied. What are your options for arranging dental care or treatments for someone who is homebound? Read on to learn more about some of the services that may be offered in your area.
Will dentists perform cleanings on a homebound patient?
While the idea of having your teeth examined and cleaned by a dentist while sitting in a recliner at home may seem outlandish, the tools dentists need to perform regular cleanings are portable and can be easily set up just about anywhere. As long as the area where your relative will be receiving his or her dental cleaning is comfortable, well-lit, and close to several wall outlets (for the necessary lights and electric cleaning tools), a dentist's ability to effectively clean your relative's teeth and even perform preventive treatments shouldn't be compromised.
In many cases, you may find it beneficial to schedule several preventive treatments at the same time as the cleaning. To help your relative avoid enamel damage caused by plaque buildup, the dentist may apply a semi-permanent fluoride gel to your relative's teeth after the cleaning. This gel will help repel cavity-causing bacteria for months, helping keep your relative's teeth clean even if his or her dental hygiene isn't always perfect.
Finding dentists in your area who will perform home cleanings may be a bit of a challenge. You'll likely first want to contact the dentist your relative used before he or she became homebound. Even if this dentist is unable to assist, you'll be able (with your relative's written permission) to request a copy of any medical records that could assist subsequent dentists in providing treatment.
You may then want to reach out to your local nonprofit agencies that deal with elderly or disabled populations. Many local charitable groups, seeing the need for preventive dental care to avoid expensive and painful problems among the populations they serve, have come up with "dental buses" and other more portable clinics that could be used to provide in-home dental care.
What should you do if your relative needs urgent dental treatment?
When dealing with major health issues, dental care may often be placed on the back burner until a problem develops. If your homebound relative is dealing with tooth pain or sinus pressure that could indicate a cavity or infection, you'll want to seek out treatment quickly to prevent these problems from affecting other parts of your relative's body. An untreated gum infection can quickly spread harmful bacteria into your relative's bloodstream, potentially leading to sepsis, endocarditis, or organ damage. If your relative begins complaining of tooth pain, or if you notice he or she has exceptionally bad breath even after brushing, you'll want to act quickly.
Depending on the terms and conditions of your relative's primary health or dental insurance policy, you may be able to arrange care through a mobile dental clinic or bus -- even if the nearest such clinic is several counties away. These mobile clinics include all the equipment needed to provide local anesthesia, fill cavities, place crowns, and even perform procedures like root canals and extractions. Don't forget with taking care of your relative, however, to schedule your own dental care as well.Share
20 November 2015
After dealing with a few root canals, I realized that it was time to take my dental hygiene a more seriously. I talked with my dentist about what I could do differently, and he was full of great suggestions that would help. He walked me through different ways to brush, floss, and take care of tartar buildup, and it was really amazing to see the difference that it made. I also started taking a fluoride supplement to strengthen my enamel. When I made it to my next appointment, my dentist was blown away with the improvement. This blog is all about improving your dental appointments by keeping your teeth healthier.