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Oral hygiene

Definition of area of practice
Oral care is a fundamental aspect of nursing care (DOH, 2001). The principle objective of mouth care is to maintain the mouth in good oral condition that is comfortable, clean, moist and free of infection (Watson, 1989). Oral care has been highlighted as an important factor in the prevention of ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) (DoH, 2011). Providing adequate oral care for patients in ICU can be challenging (Jones et al 2004) due to the patient’s condition, drugs and the effects of intubation (Hsu et al 2010: Jones et al, 2004)

Risk factors for patients in ICU

Recommendations for Practice

NB. Foam sticks are NOT recommended for oral care in ICU 


Aims of good mouth care

Indicators of a healthy mouth

  • Achieve and maintain oral cleanliness
  • prevent infection / stomatitis
  • Keep oral mucosa moist
  • Promote patient's comfort
  • Identify at risk patients
  • Keep lips clean, soft, moist and intact
  • Remove debris and plaque

(Jenkins, 1989; Mallett, Dougherty 2000)

  • Moist mucosa
  • Pink mucosa
  • Clean teeth
  • Pink tongue
  • Absence of halitosis
  • Absence of ulcers
  • Healthy gingival
  • Well-fitting dentures

(Adams 1996)




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