Applying Toothpaste After Vision Loss

By Maureen A. Duffy, M.S., CVRT

Although you've likely maintained a good oral hygiene routine throughout your life, adult-onset vision loss can make it difficult to do the "little things" that are the basic components of any toothbrushing routine. Here are some everyday tips and techniques to help with applying toothpaste to your brush and keeping track of the toothpaste cap.

Some Adaptations for the Task

  • Place your free hand over the top of the faucet to serve as a point of reference. This will help you to avoid hitting the faucet or emptying your mouth over it.
  • Place the toothbrush on a contrasting washcloth for added visibility when dispensing toothpaste.
    Toothbrush on contrasting washcloth
    Place toothbrush on contrasting washcloth
  • If you have low vision, use brightly colored or striped toothpaste that contrasts with the toothbrush bristles.

Keeping Track of the Toothpaste Cap

  • Stand it on end to prevent it from rolling away.
  • Hold the cap in your hand or keep it in your pocket.
  • Purchase toothpaste with a hinged cap.
  • Always try to place the toothpaste cap in a memorable location.

Options for Dispensing Toothpaste

  • Hold the toothbrush bristles between your index finger and your thumb to serve as a guide for toothpaste application.
    Toothbrush bristles between index finger and thumb
    Hold toothbrush bristles between your index finger and thumb to serve as a guide
  • Squeeze the toothpaste into your palm and scoop it out with the toothbrush bristles.
    Dispense toothpaste in palm and then scoop it out
    Dispense toothpaste in your palm and then scoop it out with the toothbrush
  • Squeeze the toothpaste into a one-ounce medicine cup and scoop it out with the toothbrush bristles.
  • Squeeze the toothpaste on to your finger and transfer it to your mouth.

Additional Resources for Personal Care

Personal Stories

  • Amy Bovaird: Mobility Matters
    As a person with retinitis pigmentosa, "Mobility matters. It allows me to join the rest of society, follow my interests and passion, and reconnect with my love for traveling. I don't have to stay at home fearing the dark anymore. I can live independently."

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