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
- Padded tongue depressor
- Soft-bristle toothbrush or mouth swab
- Emesis basin
- Mouth moisturizer/lip balm
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.
- Place patient on their side.
- Place a towel under the chin.
- Place the emesis basin under the chin on top of the towel.
- Use the padded tongue depressor to open the patient’s mouth. Never use your fingers; the patient may bite down, causing injury.
- 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.
- Rinse the mouth with a small amount of water on a mouth swab.
- Apply lip moisturizer.
- How to make a padded tongue depressor: wrap gauze around one end of a tongue depressor and secure with tape.
- If the patient has dentures, talk with your hospice nurse about oral care.
Adapted from: Harkreader, H., & Hogan, M.A. (2007). Fundamentals of nursing: Caring and clinical judgment. St. Louis: Saunders