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Improving Mouth Care

Improving Mouth Care is an e-learning package to support the training of all healthcare professionals involved in mouth care. This free resource developed by Health Education Thames Valley and Wessex introduces the basics of oral health care. It has been designed to give health and care staff advice and guidance in order for them to provide evidenced based mouth care for their patients and clients; with the intention of ensuring that they can enjoy the benefits of good oral hygiene and oral health as part of general health care.

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Why is oral health care important?

Oral diseases are among the most common non-communicable diseases in the UK and worldwide, despite being largely preventable. Oral health is an important part of general health and well-being. It allows people to eat, speak and socialise without discomfort or embarrassment. Numerous studies have shown links between poor oral health and diabetes, stroke, heart disease, lung disease and dementia. Poor dental function also results in a lower intake of nutritious food, more intestinal problems, increased drug intake and ultimately a lower life expectancy. Dental pain and infection impair cognitive function which may already be reduced in adults with a learning disability or elderly people, especially those who have dementia. Aspiration pneumonia is the fourth overall leading cause of death in hospitals. Many cases of bacterial pneumonia are caused by bacteria from the mouth or throat. Effective mouth care will help to reduce the number of bacteria retained in the mouth and studies have shown a decrease in the incidence of hospital and care home acquired pneumonias as a result.

The aims of Improving Mouth Care are to:- 

  • Improve understanding of the importance of oral health and the causes of poor oral health

  • Show how to check a mouth, follow a mouth care plan and what it may include

  • Provide up to date information on techniques and products for effective mouth care

  • Show how to make an oral health needs assessment for each individual using a dedicated assessment tool

  • Recognise when to escalate a problem and how to refer to a dentist if necessary

  • Show how to keep good records

There are 3 units:

  1. Introduing mouth care – Aimed at first year pre-registration nurses and care staff working in the community. This unit has simple, retainable advice on mouth care with guidance suitable for Health Care Assistants.

  2. Mouth care for adults – Aimed at providing additional material for nurses responsible for assessment and care planning, covering systemic diseases and extended content on how to support individuals with dementia or diminished capacity. 

  3. Mouth care for people with additional needs – suitable for staff looking after people with more challenging oral health issues and/or behaviour that makes mouth care difficult.

The format for each unit includes pictures and videos with additional links to evidence and further reading. All three units have an assessment with a pass mark of 80%. 


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