Different tools for different needs

Mouth care tools can be modified in a number of ways to increase a person’s independence and make the care routine easier and more enjoyable.



Look at each person’s abilities and be creative when working out what is needed. An oral health professional or occupational therapist can help.

  • Bent handle

    The bent brush head reduces the need for movement in the wrist. Can also use one to prop the mouth open while you brush with the other.
  • Tube grip

    May be useful for people with reduced grip. Can be made by gluing a length of tube to the toothbrush handle. Hardware, craft and toy shops can have good options for the tubing.
  • Ball grip

    A toothbrush is glued into a hole made in a ball eg tennis ball. May be helpful for people with reduced grip.
  • Velcro strap

    Supports reduced grip. Make by gluing a section of velcro (hook side) to the front and back of a toothbrush. Wrap a length of the eye side of the velcro around the hand to hold the brush in place.
  • Moulded acrylic handle

    Made by an oral health professional. Soft acrylic is moulded around a toothbrush handle. The person grips the acrylic until it sets in the exact shape of their grip.

Different heads

  • Curved bristles

    Can be useful for people with reduced movement in their fingers, hands or wrist, or people who don’t tolerate brushing well.
  • Multi headed

    Can be useful for people with reduced movement in their fingers, hands or wrist, or people who don’t tolerate brushing well.


  • Electric

    An electric toothbrush can support independence for people with reduced movement in their fingers, hands or wrist. However, some people do not like the vibration.

For dentures

  • Denture brush

    A denture brush can be used to clean complete dentures. A soft toothbrush is better for part-dentures.


Toothpaste provides a small amount of fluoride which helps to protect teeth against tooth decay.

In general, it’s best to:

  • use a fluoride toothpaste
  • use only pea-sized amount
  • spit out after brushing, but don’t rinse with water.

Some people don’t like the taste, smell, feel or colour of regular toothpaste.There are a range of toothpastes they can try; different flavours, low-foaming and others. You can buy some of these at a pharmacy or speak with an oral health professional about the options.

Toothpaste with a pump (rather than a cap) can be useful for people with reduced movement in their hands or arms.

What if it’s not possible to use toothpaste? Brushing with tap water only is still good. Rinse well with fresh water afterwards.

Other tools

  • Dental floss in a holder

    Used to clean in-between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Can be useful when supporting someone to floss.
  • Interdental brushes

    Used to clean in-between teeth. Brushes come in different sizes to fit different sized spaces between teeth.
  • Mouth props

    Keep the top and bottom teeth apart, which can make it easier to brush someone else’s teeth.
  • Mouth rinses

    Can be useful for some people.Use alcohol-free mouth rinses and only on the recommendation of an oral health professional.
  • Disclosing tablets

    Can be used to check and improve toothbrushing action. The vegetable dye in these tablets stains plaque, showing areas that have been missed. Buy from pharmacies.

Not sure about choosing the right tools?

Speak with an oral health professional. They can give specific advice on what to try based on a person’s particular needs.