Mouth Care Matters - elearning for healthcare
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About the Mouth Care Matters programme

The aim of Mouth Care Matters is to empower staff, through training and education, to identify patients that need help with mouth care and ensure it is delivered in a safe and compassionate way.

What is Mouth Care Matters?

Mouth Care Matters (MCM) is a Heath Education England initiative to improve the oral health of patients in hospital through education and training.

The Mouth Care Matters programme was developed and piloted at East Surrey Hospital under the leadership of a Special Care Dental Consultant. Following the successful pilot, Mouth Care Matters was then implemented in 12 trusts across Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS) with further training delivered to 43 trusts across England to enable them to rollout the programme in their trusts.

To date Mouth Care Matters has delivered training to over 100 trusts in England.

Why does Mouth Care Matter?

Supporting patients with regular mouth care is a fundamental part of care that has frequently been identified as neglected and needing improvement. Good mouth care contributes to good oral health. Oral health is an important part of general health and wellbeing. It allows people to eat, speak and socialise without discomfort or embarrassment. Hospitalisation is associated with a deterioration of oral health in patients. This in turn has been linked to an increase in hospital-acquired infections (such as hospital-acquired pneumonia), poor nutritional uptake, longer hospital stays and increased care costs. Good oral health is also important for patient safety, dignity, and the ability to communicate is a key element of compassionate care.

Mouth Care Matters is based on four key themes.

Staff require:

Knowledge of the links between oral health and general health and wellbeing

Skills gained through training on how to carry out mouth care and assessments of the mouth

Access to tools needed to provide effective mouth care such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, denture pots, and easy access to dry mouth gels.

Support when necessary from doctors/dentists/ staff with enhanced mouth care skills such as mouth care leads

Who is responsible for mouth care?

MCM is not just for nursing staff in a hospital; it is also for other health care professionals including doctors, speech and language therapists, dieticians, occupational therapists and pharmacists. Oral health care should be on everyone’s radar and training can involve the multidisciplinary team.

What are the benefits of Mouth Care Matters?

Outcomes have been positive with improvements in mouth care recording and patient care benefiting both patients and staff working in Trusts. Following the scheme, one nursing assistant commented: “I have been a nursing assistant for over 10 years and have never had any mouth care training. I have learned so much like how to remove dried debris and how to suction the mouth, I never knew it could help prevent pneumonia.”

A daughter of a patient who benefited from the scheme said: “When my father was dying, his mouth became dry and really smelly, he was always really proud that he had all his own teeth. The nurse who cared for him had recently had training and showed the other nurses and ourselves how to help keep his mouth clean. We feel it made a big difference to how comfortable he was during his final days.”

In addition to improving patient care there are financial benefits. A health economics report into MCM at East Surrey Hospital found that, for every £1 invested, there was a saving of £2.66 in terms of fewer bed days, reduced number of prescriptions and GP visits. Social improvement has also been found with staff making positive changes to their oral hygiene habit and those of their families).

There are a range of MCM resources available including guides, toolkits, posters and digital videos. Learners can use these resources and adapt if necessary to improve oral health in their place of work.

Mouth care bite-sized video training sessions

A series of bite-sized video training sessions can be accessed via the Mouth Care Matters project. These sessions offer up-to-date guidance on a range of mouth care topics:

• Oral and general health
• Brushing teeth
• Denture care
• Dry mouth
• Managing resistance to mouth care
• Mouth care at the end of life

The sessions have been produced by Health Education England elearning for healthcare (HEE elfh) and the HEE South West Mouth Care Matters Team, in collaboration with the Oral Health Foundation and North Bristol NHS Trust.

Each session includes a series of randomised questions by which users can test their knowledge and understanding of each topic.

A personalised certificate of achievement can be downloaded once all 6 sessions have been fully completed.

Mini Mouth Care Matters

Aligning itself with the original adult Mouth Care Matters is a new arm of this initiative,  “Mini Mouth Care Matters” (Mini MCM) which has been funded by Health Education England.

Mini MCM aims to empower medical and allied medical healthcare professionals to take ownership of the oral health care of any paediatric in-patient with a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.

The principles of Mini MCM are very similar to that of the original programme.

We have developed an oral health screening tool to identify patients who may be at a high risk of developing dental decay, which has been shown to lead to long-term detrimental effects in children leading to pain, sepsis and compromised growth and development.

Mini Mouth Care Matters aims to encourage all nursing, medical and health care professionals to “lift the lip” and identify common oral health and dental conditions and to include oral health care as part of basic general health care needs for all in-patients.

Mouth Care Matters for Neuro-disability

Mouth Care Matters for Neuro-disability

In partnership with the Royal Hospital of Neuro-disability (RHN), MCM developed oral health resources to support staff and families caring for people with a neuro-disability.

People with a neuro-disability present with a special set of challenges for maintaining good oral health. Jaw clenching and a strong bite reflex can make it difficult to brush teeth and clean mouths. Lip biting is common and challenging to manage long term, and many people will have oral sensory issues. The link between periodontal health and chest infections has been recognised, and research has been carried out by the Dental department at the hospital examining this important area.

For further information, please contact

Mini Mouth Care Matters
Oosh Devalia – Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry

Mouth Care Matters
Mili Doshi – Consultant in Special Care Dentistry

Meet the team

  • Oosh Devalia

    Oosh Devalia

    Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry
  • Mili Doshi

    Mili Doshi

    Consultant in Special Care Dentistry

How to access

In order to access the Mouth Care Matters 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 Mouth Care Matters 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 >

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 Mouth Care Matters 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

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