Maintaining good oral care can prevent cracking, dryness and sores. Keeping the area clean and moist will bring comfort to the patient.
Supplies you will need
- Soft-bristle toothbrush or mouth swab
- Dental floss
- Emesis basin
- Cup of water
What to do
- Explain to the patient what you are going to do, even if you are unsure whether they can hear.
- Put on gloves.
- Have the patient sitting up in a chair or with the head of the bed raised high.
- Place a towel on the patient’s chest.
- Moisten the toothbrush with a small amount of water and apply a small amount of toothpaste.
- Brush the teeth and tongue with a soft-bristle toothbrush or mouth swab. Be careful when brushing the tongue, going too far back may cause the patient to gag.
- The patient can rinse the mouth with water and use the emesis basin to spit out contents.
- Have the patient rinse the mouth with mouthwash if desired.
- Floss the patient’s teeth. Holding a small piece (a few inches) of floss use a gentle sawing motion between each tooth to the gum line. Be careful not to force the floss down onto the gum, causing injury.
If patient has dentures:
- Remove the dentures from the patient’s mouth.
- Place a wash cloth in the sink in the event the dentures slip out of your hand and fall into the sink.
- Brush the dentures with soft toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Rinse under warm water.
- Replace the dentures in the patient’s mouth.
- Report heavy bleeding of the gums to your medical provider.
Adapted from: Harkreader, H., & Hogan, M.A. (2007). Fundamentals of nursing: Caring and clinical judgment. St. Louis: Saunders