Oral care provides patients’ comfort, reduces dental plaque and mucosal inflammation, and promotes oral health. The prevalence of hospital-acquired infection is a significant concern in the care of patients in progressive and critical care units. In combination with other strategies, nurse-administered oral hygiene can contribute to the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in intubated patients.
Brush teeth, gums, and tongue at least twice a day using a soft, compact head (pediatric or adult) toothbrush.
Provide oral moisturizing to oral mucosa and lips every 2 to 4 hours.
Use an oral chlorhexidine gluconate (0.12%) rinse twice a day in intubated patients to reduce risk of VAP.
Audit documentation of oral care, including frequency and differentiating among application of chlorhexidine gluconate (0.12%), comprehensive oral care (including toothbrushing), and oral comfort care (oral cavity moisturizing).
Include the oral care procedure as part of the unit’s orientation to ensure consistency of care.