Oral Hygiene for People with Disabilities
Oral hygiene and dental care is a priority for people with disabilities because they experience greater levels of oral disease. Physical disabilities that cause impairments in manual dexterity pose a difficulty for the individual to maintain a technique that can effectively remove plaque. People with developmental and intellectual disabilities may require assistance from a caregiver to brush their teeth.
The Collis Curve Toothbrush has been shown to help individuals with limited manual dexterity brush their teeth. It is preferred by caregivers to administer oral care to their carees.
(1) Find a toothpaste that the patient likes , ( should be fluoridated) and fill the Collis Curve brush with toothpaste.
(2) set the Collis Curve over the tooth, and allow to stand for a few seconds, then slowly move the brush back and forth; if there is no negative feedback from the patient, tip the brush from side to side, and proceed to another section of the mouth
(3) If the patient resists covering the tooth with the Collis Curve brush, have him close his teeth together and circular scrub the outside ( buccal) of his teeth.The curved bristles will find their way between the teeth and under the gums
(4) In a day or two the patient will permit you to cover his tooth with the collis curve brush and your problems are over.
Laura Palmer - August 2019
East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, USA
Professor of Special Care Dentistry and Dean
Public and Child Dental Health, Dental School and Hospital, Lincoln Place, Dublin. Ireland
“We advocate Collis Curve toothbrushes mainly for people with learning disabilities where carers are having difficulty gaining access and being able to clean all surfaces for long enough with a conventional toothbrush. For people with physical impairments the Collis Curve enables the person to brush effectively in a shorter time which is important where fatigue is an issue, for example in MS and Parkinson’s. The relatively small head means the brush can be accommodated more easily than comparable brushes.”
From an article in 'Probe' dental magazine - Discussing special care dentistry
"At the heart of the debate on dental health is the question of equipment. Conventional toothbrushes fail to address these problems easily. In order to use them effectively various techniques need to be learned. Many of these are beyond the physical and mental abilities of institutionalised patients. Since the greatest problem with this group is gingival disease the various methods used to remove plaque from below the gum line are tricky for patients to use consistently, and even more difficult for carers brushing another person's teeth. .......... The greatest problem, however, is that pressure is transmitted down a straight bristle and passes out at the tip. A clumsy patient can easily damage themselves and carers find it particularly difficult to judge what may be acceptable. .......... Some years ago US dentist, Dr George Collis, was faced with these problems in the case of his own father, who had suffered a stroke. His response was to design a toothbrush, the Collis Curve, with three rows of bristles; two of them curved. He intended it to straddle the teeth and , therefore, to simplify brushing. It replaces all the previous methods with a simple backwards and forwards scrubbing motion".
Suzanne Kramer - Dental surgeon with the Debra charity in Chile
"Our patients are really happy with the toothbrushes. I have only been able to assess the impact on a few children as I am on maternity leave right now - my little princess was born three weeks ago, just before the earthquake. However I am able to say that there has been an important improvement in their ability to clean their teeth. The positive impact is also possible to assess by the fact that families are telling each other about the toothbrushes and they all ask for them when they come into review appointments in Santiago."
Mrs A.B - Aberdeen
"We have a young autistic son who has a lot of sensory processing difficulties. For two and a half years we struggled every morning and night to brush his teeth. Every time he would have to be restrained and what should have been a simple, everyday piece of personal care looked and felt like one of the most distressing actions we could inflict on our son. Of course, as he got bigger he got stronger and by the age of three it took both my husband and myself to restrain him safely enough to clean his teeth. Then we were introduced to the Collis Curve by an Occupational Therapist and it changed everything. Literally, it was instant! No more restraining, no more tantrums and tears, no more distress for him and no more distress for us! I cannot praise this clever little toothbrush enough. It's quite remarkable! Thank you Collis Curve!
A parent supplied with the Collis Curve brush by 'Fledglings', a charity sourcing useful materials for disabled and special needs children.........
"Just a short note to thank you for supplying me with the curved toothbrush. Today my daughter saw her dentist - not a looked forward to occasion - but today she congratulated Helen on her oral health. I can only put that down to being able to brush her teeth at last. So thanks; the brush really works; dentist approved."
........and another 'Fledglings' parent.
"I just wanted to say how fantastic the toothbrushes are - I really think these are going to help us enormously. My son has sensory processing difficulties and finds me brushing his teeth a real problem, but did not grumble too much with this new toothbrush. I feel it has done a much better job even than the electric one too. Thank you very much."
Carol Davison - Home Manager, Macintyre Charity
Some feedback on how effective the Collis Curve toothbrush is. We first started to use the brushes last year and due to the curved design the people we support have had a great improvement in their oral health. The brush manages to do two jobs at once, while the gums are being massaged by the curved bristles the small inner bristles clean the top of the teeth thus reducing any possible distress to the user. The angle of the brush also enables the user to reach their back molars and gums more easily. The variety of sizes is also a good idea for those who have smaller mouths or who may not be able to open their mouths very wide. Our staff have even asked to buy them too.
Pauline Watt-Smith BDSL, DSRCS(Eng), MGDP. MSC, MSNDEd
"The unique design of the Collis Curve toothbrush makes the removal of plaque more effective whilst at the same time massaging the gums without hurting them.The brush itself can be used by children, people with learning difficulties and carers helping their clients who are unable to brush their teeth unaided, and helps to promote good oral hygiene. The support of the suppliers of Collis Curve is also very special in this more impersonal world, and I can fully endorse its effectiveness in improving oral health both in my job as a Senior Dentist working with special care patients, and as secretary of the British Society of Disability and Oral health."
Hilary S. - Chichester, Sussex
"Dear Mo - I'm very impressed and Lily, my 12 year old daughter with Down's Syndrome is using hers all the time and the difference to how clean her teeth look is remarkable. Although initially I thought the Junior brush looked too small, she is finding it very easy to use and seems to be brushing a bit longer than she was with the electric brush (which was about ten seconds). Overall I'm very pleased and I think for a child with special needs they are well worth the extra cost. I have passed on some info to our dentist and a friend, and will publicise the brush at our local respite care organisation, PACSO, where I am a committee member."
Mrs B.N - Newcastle Upon Tyne
"We are delighted at how well the Collis Curve cleans my son's teeth , and already, after only a couple of weeks, his teeth look a lot whiter and his gums are a lot less inflamed than they were. My son has profound autism, severe learning difficulties and epilepsy, so your toothbrush has made cleaning his teeth an altogether less traumatic event. I have ordered more of your toothbrushes for some of my friends who have children with the same type of problems that we have with our son. We are certainly very satisfied customers. Thanks."
Mrs C.M - Devon
"My son has severe learning difficulties and a sensory processing disorder which makes cleaning his teeth very hard. He will not tolerate an electric toothbrush and we found that an ordinary toothbrush just wasn't doing the job in the limited time we had in his mouth. His new Collis Curve brush is wonderful - he can control it with minimal help from us which is very important for his independence and he finds brushing easier to tolerate when he is in control. Thank you."
Julie F. - Community Nurse
"Brilliant feedback on the Collis Curve brush. The carer who I passed it on to said it was really effective in brushing her relative's teeth. It was tolerated much better than an ordinary toothbrush."
Pamela S. - Dental Therapist
"Hello Mo. Samples of the brush have gone down really well. I hand picked some patients who attend regularly. People have mentioned to others that I have recommended them. I have sent out leaflets to those that asked. By the way, the oral hygiene of those who use them has improved."
Alan Peaford - Chairman CdLS Foundation UK and Ireland
"We first heard about Collis Curve toothbrushes from a specialist dentist in the States. We brought some back and trialled them with our learning impaired youngsters - the results were remarkable. At last we had found something that made a real difference! The Collis Curve toothbrush is now being used by people with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome across the UK and Ireland with great effect. Parents are reporting much better dental care as a direct result. Thank you for being there with such a great product."
Let us know you story. Help us spread the word about the Collis-Curve experience. Click on the orange survey link above and spread the word!
Special Needs Dentists and Resources
If you have a disability and are struggling to find a dentist that can help you with your oral care needs, check out the following links to help you find a special needs dentist near you.