A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the connection between dental health and brain health. This one is about the connection between the brain and the teeth.
There really is a difference.
I want to tell you about Charlie's brain/teeth connection. You see, now his damaged brain is telling him that there is something wrong with his teeth. This has turned into another of his "how to drive Marlis nuts" fixations.
Charlie has pretty good teeth for an old duffer. But now he says his teeth are too close together and he wants me to get an appointment for the dentist to "fix" the problem, which of course he has had since he got his second teeth 70 plus years ago.
He thinks the dentist can grind between each tooth so food won't get caught between them! Day in and day out we have this discussion with the resulting question, "Did you get me a dentist appointment yet?"
Then there is the second "problem" with his teeth. They are becoming very stained and he wants the dentist to do something about that. I finally figured out that the reason they are getting stained, in spite of cleanings every three months, is that he constantly "swishes" his coffee or wine while drinking it instead of immediately swallowing.
He thinks he's "cleaning his teeth" by swishing! I correct him every time I see him swishing, but he insists it's the thing to do.
I bought him a teeth-whitening kit but he refuses to use it; he wants the dentist to do something. I told him the only thing the dentist could do would be an expensive whitening treatment or even more expensive capping of the teeth. And of course, neither procedure would last long as he insists on swishing.
It's strange, the things the brain of a dementia patient comes up with.
The question becomes, how do we as caregivers cope with these obsessions?
The answer is—ignore them as much as possible. Try ANYTHING to distract them from the thing they are obsessing over, and GRIT YOUR TEETH – not too hard, or you too will have a tooth problem.