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A concept analysis of oral hygiene care in dependent older adults


Correspondence to E. Coker: e-mail:



To report a concept analysis of oral hygiene care.


Oral hygiene care, as it is provided to older patients in hospital and long-term care settings by nurses and their delegates, has the potential to contribute to the oral health of patients while preventing aspiration pneumonia as well as periodontitis, which itself has been associated with several systemic diseases. However, the state of oral cleanliness in such patients tends to be poor and despite the existence of guidelines, nursing care practices may be inadequate and not reflective of recent advances in knowledge.


Concept analysis.

Data sources

A search of electronic databases (2002–2012), use of internet search engines, and hand searching yielded an international data set of 66 research studies, reviews, and practice guidelines.

Review methods

The concept analysis method of Walker and Avant was used to explore the concept of oral hygiene care in the context of frail older patients.


Oral hygiene care involves approaches informed by knowing the patient, inspecting the oral cavity, removing plaque, cleansing the oral tissues, decontaminating the oral cavity, using fluoride products and maintaining oral tissue moisture. Those attributes, along with their antecedents and consequences, form a conceptual framework from which a middle-range theory of nurse-administered oral hygiene care is derived that could be tested, evaluated, modified, and translated into practice.


Clarity around the concept of oral hygiene care as a nursing intervention could enable nurses to impact oral health outcomes and possibly prevent systemic diseases in older patients.

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