Observations of oral hygiene care interventions provided by nurses to hospitalized older people
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Dependent older hospitalized patients rely on nurses to assist them with the removal of plaque from their teeth, dentures, and oral cavities. Oral care interventions by 25 nurses on post-acute units, where patients have longer hospital stays, were observed during evening care. In addition to efforts to engage patients in oral care, nurses provided the following interventions: (a) supporting the care of persons with dentures; (b) supporting the care of natural teeth; (c) cleansing the tongue and oral cavity; and (d) moisturizing lips and oral tissues. Patients' oral hygiene care was supported in just over one-third of encounters. Denture care was inconsistently performed, and was infrequently followed by care of the oral cavity. Nurses did not encourage adequate self-care of natural teeth by patients, and infrequently moisturized tissues. Evidence-based oral hygiene care standards are required to assist nurses to support patients in achieving optimal oral hygiene outcomes.
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