• oral assessment;
  • oral health;
  • oral health care

Aims and objectives.  To investigate the prevalence of oral health problems in patients hospitalised with acute medical conditions.

Background.  Increases in our knowledge of oral health and its effects on overall well-being have helped us elucidate the relationship between oral health, disease and treatment. Currently, little is known regarding the number of patients requiring oral care at the time of hospitalisation.

Design.  This was a cross-sectional study that assessed patients hospitalised with acute medical conditions using the Revised Oral Assessment Guide (ROAG).

Methods.  The ROAG was translated into Danish, and three experienced nurses performed the assessments. A visual guide was used to calibrate the assessments. The data were analysed with spss to determine the percentage of participants who exhibited specific clinical characteristics.

Results.  Ninety-one per cent of the newly admitted patients in this study had one or more oral health problems. Common oral problems, listed in order of the most frequent first, included the following: local plaque or debris, decayed teeth or damaged dentures and dryness and/or changes in the colour of the tongue. There was a correlation between age and the number of oral health problems.

Conclusions.  In this study, oral health was severely affected at the time that patients were hospitalised for acute medical issues.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Highlights the need for standardised oral health assessments of acutely hospitalised patients, which should begin as soon as the patient’s condition allows. Without these oral health assessments, a number of oral problems may not be detected and may increase in severity.