Mom (93 with alzheimers) is often grinding her teeth, we've ruled out medication related. We've been giving her gum. Any suggestions?

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My mother has been doing this for the last month. She has good teeth and has always taken good care of them. It is a worry, because there is only so much they can take! Anyone saying you should not do anything simply does not understand or if they do, they simply do not care.
A friend of mine is a doctor of psychology. Every time I mention my mum, she asks me at what stage in her life has she regressed to. Questions like, has she regressed to a time early than the existence of her brothers or sisters – ie. Does she know who they are? My mum is now at a stage where she has no recollection not just of her children and husband, not just her brothers and sisters, but of whom her parents were.
I have this one thought about her teeth grinding. Could it be that she has regressed to a time in her life, when she was teething? Could this be that habit locked away in her memories, which is now manifesting itself again as she regresses?
This may make it impossible to stop – How on earth do you remove a reaction to something so deep in someone’s past?
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We actually found a mouth guard worked slightly with my Mum (who would grind so hard you could hear the teeth crack, and was wincing with the pain). The issue with the guard was who she would trust to put it in, and could not be used for too long as if she was actively grinding it would rub a sore on her inner lip. We also used a childs dummy, although had to be careful to use a robust one, as otherwise would break off. Also if she chewed it too hard it also rubber the lips on the outside. Before she had issues swallowing, and ground only for a couple of hours a day we found giving her carrot sticks or cucumber from the fridge to chew helped. At the moment she is grinding all day when awake, and we have found that a muscle relaxant only works some of the time, and to get her to go to sleep at night on particularly bad days, we have to resort to a short term strong pain killer that basically makes her so dozy she drops off.
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My mom also has dementia. She is nonverbal. She grinds so loud, it can be heard from another room. She can't chew gum because she will swallow it. She doesn't appear to be in pain, and laughs and is always in good spirits. I think it is just another stage of dementia as that part of the brain becomes involved. There is no stopping it. She won't open her mouth for a dentist or mouth guard. She ambulates with assist, so a relaxant is not possible because we are afraid she will fall. Good luck everyone with this awful disease. I understand what you all are going through.
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I grind my teeth at night ( I do not have alzheimers). I wear invisalign so that helps a lot, but I definitely have cracked a few teeth because of it. It's completely involuntary and the only thing that reduces it for me is reducing stress (by medication and by self care)

Angel
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i'm caring for my mother-in-law who has fronto-temperal dementia. she started grinding her teeth while awake about 6 months ago. its not only damaging to her teeth but horrible...impossible to listen to. she doesn't seem to be in any pain. we think she's actually fulfilling some need or actually soothing herself. rather than candy or mouth pieces try a plastic straw. if you don't mind a straw hanging from her mouth our family has found it works great. she gets to chew away and the irritating noise is gone. the plastic does NOT tear so in her case there is no chocking issue.
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My mom has dimentia ,and it been 2 weeks tht she has started grinding her teeth im concern tht she might hurt her jaw and teeth pplus with all tht grinding i figurw she must get a bad headache . Her doctor said it wasnt a side affect of her meds. I massage her head n neck to see if she stops sometimes it does but other times it doesnt ,i feel bad cuz i dont know wat to do it makes me sad too see her like tht and not be able to help her ,plus she has hemorrhoids i figure that could be to since she wears diapers and unable to speak maybe she has an itch . So i change her diaper and put medication on her hemmroids sometimes it work and sometimes it doesnt i just feel she is getting worst with her grinding i hate seeing her tht way .
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My mom with Alzheimer's just started grinding her teeth as well. After reading all the posts and hearing everybody's experience with this, I'm thinking and thinking about what could possibly be stressing her out? Can't think of anything? I'm her son and caregiver and trust that I'm the one who's stressed out to the max.
For the most part, she doesn't even know what's happening half the time. A few years ago she used to attend a day care facility 5 days a week while I was at work. There she would often fight with other participants (patients) who were staring at her too long or looking at her the wrong way or for whatever reason, most of the time because of them damn U.T.I's, Anyway, Our lovely primary physician prescribed a low .25 dose of Alprazolam (Xanax) to see if that would alleviate the problem and it did. Yay!! She got to stay! Tonight is the first time since the day care that I have had the need to drug her up but, for her own peace, safety and comfort (and mine) I gave her a pill tonight with some pudding and guess what? I can hear her snoring like a baby on my cam as I write this post. Again, this is the first time in a while that I've drugged her but I think I have found the answer.....Wow!! Now I can take my pill and go to sleep! Good luck to everybody and I suggest this to each and every one of you. Xanax is a Miracle drug.....Lol- Goodnight!
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According to the internet; I asked the question about grinding teeth and it says: Stay away from things like chewing gum as it embeds clenching and grinding into your muscle memory. Most of these suggestions work to a point but most explanations seem to be grinding is due to stress related activity or stress about their situation. They may not remember that they are stressed but they start the grinding and it stays with them as a habit that may help while they are doing the grinding. Warm cloths against the face and jaw sometimes help relieve the stress, yoga helps but many dementia patients can't perform yoga, stopping all meds if they are in the end-zone of dementia or Alzheimers should help some as well. Most don't realize they are grinding and won't open the mouth to be examined so a dentist is pointless. At her age, she really doesn't have much longer to grind so I'd just close the door and let her grind. If you have done all you can do to stop it, then try to get a mouth guard to help soften the grinding and give her a valium to sleep, then let her be. What hasn't been mentioned though is pinworms can also cause teeth grinding. If you've tried everything else, may as well try a treatment for pinworms too. An RX for them is usually a one-time treatment but OTC can take several doses so whatever your situation is, try that and see if it will relieve itself that way. Good Luck in finding some answers.
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Our mother is in a late stage, and stopping all the medications has actually helped with the grinding of her teeth. She still does it but lighter and shorter episodes. We tried valium but it just makes her drowsy.
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I'm so sorry Momsfriend. My mom just passed from end-stage Alz and she too, was a grinder. I'm now thinking it maybe just another stage of dementia. We couldn't get her to stop and like your mom she couldn't tolerate a dentist either. As Mama got closer to death the grinding did stop...and by then she was no longer able to chew. Dementia's are horrible diseases for everyone. I will say a prayer for your mom and you! Blessings, Lindaz
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