Whether you are a professional or family member, working as a caregiver for someone with a physical disability requires planning and peace of mind. We commend you. Part of your work may mean helping them with their oral hygiene. If you’ve never done this before, Toms River Smiles Dental is delighted to offer you some tips to get you on the right track.

Brushing Teeth:

People with physical disabilities may be particularly prone to infection, so wash your hands before you start and consider putting on disposable gloves. Help your client into a reclining position, stand or sit behind them in such a way that you can hold their head back in a way that is comfortable for them and so you can see their teeth. If your client cannot swallow properly, do not use toothpaste; simply wet the toothpaste in warm water and brush each tooth in short strokes. Remember to brush their tongue. Offer them a glass of water afterward and have them rinse and spit into a bowl. If they can’t rinse their mouth, consider sweeping the mouth with a finger wrapped in gauze.


Cut a piece of floss that is 18 inches long. Grip it between the thumb and index finger of each hand and gently wedge it between each tooth. Start with the lower front teeth and then the upper front teeth and slowly work your way to the back. Use a new section of floss for each crevice to avoid cross-contamination.

Going to the Dentist:

Come visit us at least twice a year. If you think your first appointment may be emotionally difficult for your client, we would be delighted to book a “get-to-know-you” appointment where there is no actual dental treatment to help your client adjust. If you’d like, Dr. Harihar Kumar or a member of our dental team can even give you and your client in-person pointers on how to brush and floss. Just call us in Toms River, New Jersey at 732-244-1163.