Oral Care for the Conscious Patient

Document created by tfreiberg Employee on Dec 27, 2016Last modified by ssnider on Jan 7, 2017
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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
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Gloves
  • Emesis basin
  • Cup of water
  • Towel
  • Mouthwash 


What to do

  1. Explain to the patient what you are going to do, even if you are unsure whether they can hear.
  2. Put on gloves.
  3. Have the patient sitting up in a chair or with the head of the bed raised high.
  4. Place a towel on the patient’s chest.
  5. Moisten the toothbrush with a small amount of water and apply a small amount of toothpaste.
  6. 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.
  7. The patient can rinse the mouth with water and use the emesis basin to spit out contents.
  8. Have the patient rinse the mouth with mouthwash if desired.
  9. 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.


Special instructions

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