January is Alzheimer Awareness Month

Appointments with health care practitioners are a routine part of life for any person with Alzheimer’s. However, like all changes to that person’s routine, they can also trigger anxiety. If you provide care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, here are some things you can do to create less stressful and more successful experiences during Denturist appointments.

Clarify what you need

Part of your role as caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s is to communicate what your loved one needs to feel comfortable. The more information you can provide to the Denturist about how to reduce your loved one’s anxiety, the better able they will be to offer a positive and productive appointment experience.

Here are some things you can request from denture clinic staff to improve the appointment experience for your loved one:

Schedule wisely

  • Appointments should be scheduled early in the day, to avoid potential delays
  • Book appointments at times when the denture clinic is free as possible from unnecessary noise, people, and clutter
  • It may be necessary to break longer, more complex appointments into short, specific appointments, to keep patients attentive and cooperative

Create a calm environment

  • If the denture clinic normally plays music or television in the waiting area, it could be turned off prior to your arrival
  • The Denturist may be able to seat the patient in the examination room prior to the appointment time, to allow for quiet and rest before the appointment begins
  • The dental chair can be adjusted to be as comfortable as possible to the patient

Simplify tasks and routines

  • Ask the Denturist to break down tasks into small steps, and to ask the patient to follow only one instruction or idea at a time
  • Procedures should be explained to the patient before the Denturist performs them
  • Communication with the patient should involve short words and sentences, with lots of time for comprehension
  • If the Denturist has instructions or explanations for the patient, they should be prepared to repeat these as needed and to write them down for you

Use non-verbal communication

  • Office staff should move slowly and calmly, smile at the patient, and act gently
  • When the Denturist needs the patient’s attention, they should stand in the patient’s line of vision, maintain eye contact, and speak in a calm and soothing voice
  • Rest periods should be offered to the patient as needed

Plan for success

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Consider using the following tips as a checklist for the hours preceding your next trip to the Denturist:

Before the appointment

  • Ensure they have something to eat
  • Provide an opportunity for exercise, if possible
  • Ask the patient if they would like to use the restroom before leaving for the appointment
  • Consider rescheduling the appointment if they are having a bad day

At the appointment

  • Bring a bottle of water or thermos of tea to ensure they do not get thirsty before the appointment ends
  • If your loved one tends to be cold, consider offering a sweater or blanket
  • Providing a familiar security object may help the patient feel more relaxed

Offer reassurance

Your presence and support during the dental appointment will comfort your loved one and help make the appointment experience as positive for them as possible. Use the specific calming strategies that work best with your loved one, and employ the following general tips as well:

  • Stay within sight to help with other unfamiliar faces and strange equipment and sounds
  • If physical touch helps to calm them, hold their hand
  • Use calming phrases such as: “You’re safe here” or “I will stay with you”
  • If your loved one becomes agitated, phrases like “I’m sorry that you are upset” and “I will stay until you feel better” can help calm them


Good denture and oral health can make eating and digesting food easier for an Alzheimer’s patient, improving their overall quality of life. And as Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one will depend on you more and more for assistance with dental care. We encourage you to keep connected with a Denturist for assistance, information, and support to help you in your dental caregiving tasks.

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