My mother is 74 years old and has Alzheimer's, and she is experiencing swallowing issues similar to those posted in this forum. In addition to choking and coughing severely after eating, she at times also chokes on her own saliva, even if she has not eaten recently. Her doctors do not expect her swallowing problems to get any better. Her swallowing issues continued even after she was recently placed on a pureed/liquid diet.
One day I decided to floss my mom's teeth, as I remembered her doing this for me as a young child; I thought it would bring back some memories for her. I flossed her teeth thoroughly, and brushed her teeth after I finished flossing. Immediately after doing these, I noticed a very significant change for the better with her swallowing issues. Her coughing and choking were much less severe. She NO LONGER choked on her own saliva. She stated outright that she felt better.
I continued to floss her teeth once a day, and her swallowing issues have gradually diminished; with regards to choking and coughing, she has gotten much better. She has since been able to resume eating solid foods, and drinking all liquids. She has not developed any other side complications or other issues. It has since been 3 months, and her coughing and choking have not come back.
Here are some additional notes:
1.) I used Reach brand un-flavored dental floss and regular Crest toothpaste.
2.) The teeth should be brushed immediately after flossing. The flossing can be done at any time of the day (morning, noon, or night), as long as it is done once per day.
3.) I did make sure to wash my hands just before flossing. While flossing, I also wore protective food prep nitrile gloves that were latex free, as I was not sure what kind of germs my sick mother might have in her mouth.
4.) If possible, the tongue should also be brushed.
At first, my mother did state that she felt nauseous if her back teeth were brushed, for some reason. I tried to get her to very lightly brush her back teeth anyway. I felt that it was important that she brush her entire mouth.
If your hands are too large to fit inside of the patient's mouth, you may wish to consider hiring a private caregiver who has small hands. Do not consider using the dental floss picks that you stick inside the patient's mouth; these will not floss the teeth thoroughly at all. The teeth must be flossed along the gum line, in a gentle curving motion. The dental floss must NOT just be stuck straight up and down between the teeth.