Oral Hygiene or Mouth Care in Nursing: Purposes, Indications

What is Mouth Care or Oral Hygiene in Nursing?

Mouth care or oral hygiene means the practice of keeping mouth and teeth healthy and clean by brushing and flossing to prevent bad odor and dental problems by regular brushing and cleaning. The mouth is important for eating, drinking, taste, breathing, speech, communication, and the immune system.

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Oral hygiene in nursing
Fig: Oral hygiene in nursing

The mouth is one of the chief portals of entry for bacteria. It provides food, moisture, and warmth, all ideal factors for the growth of the disease-producing bacteria. During illness, the individual resistance is lowered and there is all the more chance of bacteria entering the body. Mouth care or oral hygiene prevents plaque, infection, mouth sores, bleeding gums, and cavities. As a result, it is very important. It also helps to freshen breath and improve appetite.

When Should Give Mouth Care?

Mouth care should be given in the morning, after each meal, and before bed each night. The person may need more frequent or hourly mouth care if his mouth is in poor condition.

Objectives of Oral Hygiene or Mouth Care:

Oral hygiene is an integral part of health care.  Assessment and delivery of appropriate oral care can prevent potential infections as well as reduce distress and discomfort. The principal objective and purpose of oral care are pointed below.

  1. To clean the mouth and maintain oral function.
  2. To provide oral care of the teeth, gums, and mouth.
  3. To remove offensive odors and food debris.
  4. To keep the oral mucosa and lips clean, soft, moist, and intact.
  5. To decrease the risk of oral and systemic infection.
  6. To promote patient comfort and a feeling of well-being.
  7. To remove, and prevent the build-up of food debris/dental caries without damaging the gingiva.
  8. To alleviate pain/discomfort, thereby enhancing oral intake.
  9. To prevent halitosis and freshen the mouth.
  10. To improve appetite and digestion.
  11. To maintain personal hygiene.
  12. To stimulate the flow of saliva.

Indications of Mouth Care or Oral Hygiene:

All patients admitted to the hospital may be predisposed to poor oral health. Patients may be dependent or independent with oral hygiene. The special mouth must be given as often as necessary hourly, two hourly, or at least four hourly. Require special mouth care is essential for some patients suffering from specific illnesses mentioned below:

  1. Patients with high fever or hyper-pyrexia.
  2. Very ill or unconscious patients.
  3. Patients having a liquid diet or cannot take anything by mouth or swallow (NPO).
  4. Patients with nasal tubing.
  5. Post-operative patients.
  6. Patients with oral sores.
  7. Patients with dehydration.
  8. Patients are breathing through the mouth.
  9. Patients receiving oxygen therapy.
  10. Lack of knowledge or motivation for oral hygiene.
  11. Loss or lack of saliva production.
  12. Intervention altering oral status.
  13. Poor nutritional status.
  14. Immunocompromised patients.
  15. Patients with mental illness.
  16. In patients with cardiac valvular defects, good oral care, and hygiene are essential.
  17. For patients with bleeding disorders, gentle and good oral care are essential.

3 thoughts on “Oral Hygiene or Mouth Care in Nursing: Purposes, Indications”

  1. I appreciated it when you shared that the mouth is one of the main entryways of entry for bacteria.

  2. Oral health in nursing is really important for patient health. This article is really helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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