Good oral health is an important factor in general health and quality of life. Evidence shows that people with learning disabilities have poorer oral health and more problems in accessing dental services than people in the general population. People with learning disabilities may need additional help with their oral care and support to get dental treatment because of cognitive, physical and behavioural factors.

Regular dental check-ups are important. Domiciliary care is available for people unable to leave their home.

Visit Devon Doctors to help find a local NHS dentist.

Tooth brushing and toothpaste

Tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste is essential to keep teeth and gums healthy and is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay

  • Always brush twice a day, before bedtime and at one other time in the day (for most people this is at breakfast time).
  • Choose a toothbrush suitable for you:
  • A Manual toothbrush should have a small head with soft/medium bristles.
  • A rechargeable electric toothbrush with a small round oscillating head (battery brushes are not as effective).
  • Keep your electric toothbrush fully charged.
  • Toothbrushes/heads should be changed every 3 months or sooner if the bristles are splayed. They should also be replaced after illness (e.g. colds and viruses).
  • After use toothbrushes should be well rinsed and left to dry naturally (away from toilet facilities).
  • Toothpastes containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride are the most effective.
  • A pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride is the most effective.
  • After brushing spit out excess toothpaste. Do not rinse your mouth with water or use mouthwash after brushing.
  • Specialist Toothbrushes are available Barman’s Superbrush & Collis curve toothbrush
  • Oranurse toothpaste has been developed without flavour or foaming agents
  • Toothbrush handgrips or handle adaptions can also help people with dexterity issues maintain their independence.

Medical conditions, medications and oral health

Some medical conditions and drugs can affect oral health. Or they may affect the treatment given and the materials the dental team use. A full medical history should be taken to the dentist by the patient or their support staff.

Dry mouth is not just uncomfortable; it can also put you at risk for oral health problems such as tooth decay and gingivitis. Normally, the saliva in your mouthwashes away food particles, neutralizes acids that can attack tooth enamel and helps control the bacteria in your mouth. With dry mouth or xerostomia, there is not enough saliva to protect your teeth and gums from bacteria. You may notice problems with bad breath, sore throats and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Illness and some medications can contribute to dry mouth.

Visit the NHS website for more information about Dry mouth.