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Keywords:

  • intensive care unit;
  • oral care;
  • oral hygiene;
  • patient

Aims and objectives

To assess the oral hygiene needs and the status of the oral mucus membranes of patients being treated in an intensive care unit and to determine the personal- or treatment-related variables associated with oral hygiene and the status of the oral mucus membranes of patients.

Background

Oral hygiene has an impact on the clinical outcomes and well-being of critically ill patients.

Design

A descriptive, cross-sectional design was used.

Method

The study was conducted in the intensive care unit of a private hospital located in Istanbul. The study sample consisted of 60 patients treated in the intensive care unit for five consecutive days. Oral assessments were conducted once per day every morning for five days. The oral assessments were performed using the Oral Assessment Tool and Oral Assessment Checklist.

Results

The oral hygiene status and the health of the oral mucus membranes improved over the consecutive five-day assessments, and the routine oral care provided by nurses in the intensive care unit was effective in preventing oral mucus membrane-related complications.

Conclusions

The frequency of oral care and oral moistening should be determined according to the patient's condition and the presence of risk factors for oral complications. Oral mucus membranes should be assessed closely and systematically in all critically ill patients who are mechanically ventilated, are receiving oxygen therapy, are undergoing invasive procedures, have a history of chronic health problems or are receiving enteral or parenteral nutrition.

Relevance to clinical practice

To prevent infections or complications during intensive care treatment, it is important for nurses working in critical care units to develop and implement oral care assessments and evidence-based oral care protocols.