Does anyone have any suggestions to cope with oral thrush?

It is very difficult to clean my husband's teeth because either as a reflex action he bites down on the brush and/or cannot follow instructions or suggestions to open his mouth and let the brush in.The care home staff have tried but with no real success. The dentist gave them a tongue depressor but again as a reflex action he bit it in half. He also bites his bottom lip.As a result of this and lack of oral hygene he has a swollen, scabbed lip. blisters on the inside of his mouth and terrible oral thrush. Consequently he is unable, reluctant to take nourishment. It must be so painful for him. And for the same reason he won't always take the medication to clear it up. He is now dehydrated and having subcutaneous fluids for a week. He will certainly rehydrate but if the infections persist and he can't take nourishment orally the decision about a peg will have to be taken. Anyone familiar with any of this?

12 Replies

  • Mum's teeth were awful towards the end when no-one could clean them effectlively using toothbrush, she would bite down on toothbrush or oral hygiene swabs, she couldn't swill or spit. Sad how she was so proud of keeping her teeth in good condition, she smiled when I teased her that it would have been easier to take out her teeth to clean them. One of her last smiles.

    I bought a set of differing sizes interdental brushes from Boots and used them to clean the outside of between her teeth using a little toothpaste to improve the taste in her mouth, then I used the swabs to clean away the excess food, plaque etc, It took ages and I didn't go inside her mouth, and I didn't use much water as fear of choking but her teeth looked and smelt better after, I guess one could use diluted tea tree oil or conventional oral hygiene products to try to reduce bacteria in the mouth. If done daily this may help, Mum wouldn't tolerate it too often.

    I hope this helps

  • Thank you for taking the time to reply. As you mention the problem is getting inside the mouth. He always did use interdental brushes but not possible now. He used to use mouth wash as well but can't gargle or spit anymore. We'll keep trying.

    Take care


  • I just see this was 2 years ago. I'm sorry to not check before I replied. May I ask how your dad is doing? Has he managed to stay with you for 2 more years? My mom is failing on a very slow grueling timeline. Such a hard thing to watch!

  • Hi, My Hubby is on Nilstat cherry flavored drops at present and by the looks of it needs another prescription, it worked the first time it was prescribed by the doctor, it's thick and you place 1 ml on the tongue which they rub around their mouth. ask your Doctor for them? Hubby has the same problem teeth clamping shut and mouth not opening wide enough to clean properly, all you can do is buy a baby toothbrush and try your best! one other thing you could try is tooth moose which repairs teeth or ask the dentist for a strong fluoride rinse and toothpaste so he can rub it over his teeth. the dentist says this will help a little and you can only get it from a dentist, good luck

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I bought a baby brush and a sensitive brush but the problem is getting into the mouth. I haven't heard of Nilstsat so will mention it to the GP next week.

    Take care


  • I posed the initial question. I have just finished Nilstat drops 2 mls 2 daily via adropper into one side of the mouth & then the other side & hold there as long as possible. I eat yoghurt a very good one + I take a probiotic capsule. My colonoscopy + gastroscopy showed inflamation of stomach & bowel but no nasties although oesophagus was infected by Candida an organism that is part of the normal flora its environment has been disturbed so caused infection that was painful. Cause is said to be the asthma puffers always clean teeth after them but told to swallow some water.Skin seems a bit better was very itchy.Gastroenterologist said to me 'see u in 5 years' I replied I dont think so! Marytea in Perth Western Australia

  • Hi My husband has the same problem i got cleaners on line they fit over your finger and have toothpast in them they work for him i wet them a little and rub it over his teeth it leaves his mouth smelling fresh hope it helps

  • Thank you for the suggestions. I'll try anything. Of course the problem by now is that his mouth is in such a state and must be so sore that he doesn't want anyone or anything near it.

    Take care


  • Hi Sheila. We used biotene products - the toothpaste and oral mouth rinse. We religiously used oral swabs after every meal or after anything went into the mouth. When he would bite down - if you just let go of the toothbrush or swab and just be patient -his mouth will release - -we finally had to move to a suction toothbruch that went with his suctioner to keep his mouth clean when swallowing became very difficult. There is also an oral antiseptic than you can use with the swab too to keep the mouth clean but I can't remember the name of it. As far as the oral thrush - you generally need an antibiotic for that. I'll try to remember the name and post links to the suction toothbrush

  • Hi, thanks for replying. He's on the second, stronger antibiotic but won't always open his mouth to take it. Sometimes they put it in yoghurt. I'll ask them about swabs tomorrow.

    Take care


  • hi

    My dad suffered with oral hygiene probs,and at the end very bad oral thrush.The hospice nurses said to try using a baby toothbrush and wiping round his mouth with fresh pineapple juice.Unfortunately I cant say if this worked ,dad passed away .But It may help.Kind regards Toty.

  • Sometimes, due to muscle spasms, the person can’t open their mouth fully, making if difficult to maintain good oral hygiene. A good technique is to use two toothbrushes – one to gently insert between the top and bottom teeth on one side of the mouth to gain access, while using the other brush to clean the teeth on the other side. The carer can then swap the brush to the opposite side and continue brushing the teeth. It can take up to 10 minutes to thoroughly clean the mouth so make sure enough time is allowed in the daily routine.

    Mouth props are also available and can be used to assist access to the mouth.

    A mouth prop (‘Bedi Finger Prop’) or bite support made of plastic worn on the index finger of the carer’s non-brushing hand can be placed between the jaws to help to keep the mouth open. For further information contact your occupational therapist or dentist. (Taken from:

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