Mom is obsessed with flossing her teeth. Any thoughts?

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Yes, Mom who has dementia (I don't know what stage) is constantly flossing, using her waterpik, as well as toothpicks on her remaining natural lower teeth to the point where I have seen blood on the floss. She believes that food is stuck in between some teeth.


I have taken her to an oral surgeon (she needed to have a tooth extracted) and I had a private talk with the doctor and he told me that after examining the rest of her teeth that no way can food get stuck and he recommended that she be put on Prozac.


I am used to hearing about how food is stuck in her teeth everyday and I just say rinse your mouth. I nicely try to explain to her that it's not necessary to keep flossing and using her waterpik but she does it anyway.


Tomorrow (weather permitting) she has an app't with her M.D. and I will try to talk to him about this. I really dislike the idea of my Mom taking an anti-depressant as she is sensitive to meds.


Any thoughts? Thanks, Jenna

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I told my Mom's doctor about this obsession and he prescribed her Zoloft (low dose) which is helping. She no longer obsesses about her teeth and stopped flossing. I also told my Mom that if she overdoes it with the flossing and waterpik that she will lose more of her remaining teeth faster which kind of scared her.
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I'm not sure if it mightn't feed her obsession, but my mother's visiting dentist left us with a little disposable mirror for checking the very back areas - could you maybe *show* your mother that the discomfort is probably coming from where she's overdone it with the floss, and that what she needs to do is use a soothing mouthwash and let it settle down.
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Thanks so much! Cwillie, I think you are right about my Mom causing her gums to swell which makes her think there is food stuck. Right now I just can't take away her floss as she tells me I am controlling her (which I am to a certain extent). I control her meds because she either doesn't take them or takes them too much (because she doesn't remember).

My Mom was never the obsessive type and I wonder if dementia has something to do with this? Or maybe Mom is just bored and depressed? At 91 she does not have a life anymore. Between my Aunt (who lives far away) and myself we are going to get my Mom to start going to the Adult Senior Center at least once a week where there are activities and hopefully she can make some friends.

JessieBelle, that's a great idea about getting a mouthwash (that has magical properties). I try not to let my Mom's obsession bother me too much as I really believe she can't help it and that it's part of her dementia and depression.

I am willing to try the meds and see how she reacts to a very low dose. Mom is very depressed and I can't fix everything. Darn, don't they make magic wands for caregivers? :-)

Thanks, Jenna
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I wonder if she would use a mouthwash that you endow with the magical properties of removing material from between her teeth. You can try one and see if it will help fulfill her need to clean her teeth. cwillie could be right that she is flossing too much and making her gums swell.

The obsessions can drive us crazy. My mother applies lotion to her hands every few minutes. Almost every time I see her when she is awake, she is massaging it into her hands. She says the skin is dry and I can't talk her into stopping. Fortunately, the lotion is not harmful -- at least I hope it's not. Flossing to the point of bleeding, though, can be. I hope you can find a good substitute while your mother is going through this phase.
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The obsessive flossing can do harm, so I would hide it away and tell her you won't have any until you get to the store. She may even be causing her gums to swell, which causes her to think there is something caught in her teeth, and around the circle you go.
I would try the meds, you can ask to start with just half the normal starting dose and see how she reacts.
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