Improving Mouth Care - elearning for healthcare
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  • Health Education England_New logo 2021

About the Improving Mouth Care programme

This e-learning enables the implementation of effective oral hygiene measures to help avoid oral complications and the need for dental treatment.

Health Education England working across the South East has developed this e-learning package to support the training of all healthcare professionals involved in mouth care. It has been designed to give health and care staff guidance to provide evidenced based mouth care.  It emphasises the importance of oral health and its links to general health with the intention of ensuring that their patients and clients can enjoy the benefits of good oral hygiene and oral health as part of general health care.

Why is oral health care important?

Oral diseases are among the most common non-communicable diseases 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. 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 older 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 can help to reduce the number of bacteria retained in the mouth and therefore decrease the incidence of hospital and care home acquired pneumonias.

The aims of Improving Mouth Care e-learning are to:

  • Improve understanding of the importance of oral health and the causes of poor oral health
  • Demonstrate how to include mouth care in care planning
  • Show how to make an oral health needs assessment for each individual using a dedicated assessment tool
  • 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 for natural teeth and dentures
  • Show how to help people with their oral hygiene needs if they require support and how to develop strategies for individuals for whom mouth care is challenging.
  • Demonstrate how to keep records of mouth care delivered.
  • Describe when and how to escalate an oral health problem

Care for people living with dementia is threaded throughout.

There are 3 sessions:

  1. Introduction to mouth care – Aimed at year one pre-registration nurses and staff working in the community. This level 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 use later in nurse training, covering systemic diseases and extended content on how to support individuals with Dementia or diminished capacity. Suitable for nurses responsible for assessment and care planning.
  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 oral care difficult.

The format is interactive and each module contains links to additional resources.

All 3 levels have an assessment and successful completion will require a pass rate of 80%.

More information

This resource is patient centred, and is mapped to Care Quality Commission standards. It also follows best practice as part of Essence of Care and NICE guidance. All the recommendations are based on Delivering Better Oral Health – An evidence-based toolkit for prevention – 4th edition by Department of Health and the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry, published 2021.

How Oral Health links in to the Care Quality Commission standards

  • Safe

  • Effective

  • Caring

  • Responsive

  • Well led

Meet the team

  • Katy Kerr

    Katy Kerr

    Associate Postgraduate Dental Dean Workforce Development, HEE SE working across Thames Valley and Wessex. Contact at or

How to access

In order to access the Improving Mouth Care programme, you will need an elfh account. If you do not have one, then you can register by selecting the Register button below.

Register >

To view the Improving Mouth Care programme, select the View button below. If you already have an account with elfh, you will also be able to login and enrol on the programme from the View button.

View >

Access for care home or hospice staff

To register for the Improving Mouth Care programme, select the ‘Register’ button above. Select the option ‘I am a care home or hospice worker’ then enter your care home / hospice name or postcode and select it from the options available in the drop down list. Finally enter your care home / hospice registration code and select ‘Register’. You may need to see your employer to get this code.

If your employer does not have a code, then they need to contact the elfh Support Team. The Support Team can either give the employer the Registration Code or arrange a bulk upload of all staff.

Access for social care professionals

Access to elfh content is available to all social care professionals in England whose employers are registered with the Skills for Care National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC). Every employer providing NMDS-SC workforce information to Skills for Care has been given a user registration code for their staff. This code enables you to self-register for access to the Improving Mouth Care programme. Please contact your employer for more details about the registration code. For information about registering your organisation with the NMDS-SC your employer should access or contact the Skills for Care Support Service on 0845 8730129.
If you have a registration code select the ‘register’ button above

NHS healthcare staff in England

The Improving Mouth Care programme is also available to NHS healthcare staff via the Electronic Staff Record (ESR). Accessing this elearning via ESR means that your completions will transfer with you throughout your NHS career.

Further details are available here.

Not an NHS organisation?

If you are not an NHS health or care organisation and therefore do not qualify for free access elfh Hub, you may be able to access the service by creating an OpenAthens account.

To check whether or not you qualify for free access via OpenAthens, you can view the eligibility criteria and register on the ‘OpenAthens’ portal.

Registering large numbers of users

If you are a HR, IT or Practice Manager and would like to register and enrol large numbers of staff within your organisation for access onto the Improving Mouth Care programme, please contact elfh directly.

Organisations wishing to use their own LMS

For HR departments wanting to know more about gaining access to courses using an existing Learning Management System please contact elfh directly to express interest.

More information

Please select the following link for more information on how to use the elfh Hub.

elfh is a NHS England programme in partnership with the NHS and professional bodies