Mouth care is an area in nursing that seems to have a low priority (Griffiths and Boyle, 1993). However the status of a seriously ill patient¡s mouth and oral mucous can influence several other functions such as the ability to eat, swallow food, digest food and even the ability to speak. All these processes can be affected by poor mouth care (Walton and Miller, 2001). For some patients failure to identify and rectify poor oral hygiene can be life threatening, for example in chemotherapy patients, the mortality rate due to Candidemia (systemic candidiasis) is estimated to be as high as 71% to 79% (Shay, Truhlar and Renner 1997). It is therefore important that an oral status is formulated for the comfort and well being of the patient (Adams, 1996), as oral care is a very important nursing activity and is essential in providing comfort, preventing infection and maintaining the patients nutritional status (Holmes, 1996).
Mouth care is a vital aspect of patient care especially for the seriously ill patient as they are usually wholly dependant on others to provide it, oral hygiene and mouth care for this type of patient is clearly a nursing responsibility, so the intention of this essay is to explore this area of nursing practice in depth. Basic anatomy of the oral cavity and common oral problems will be examined; this area of care will also be applied to the critically ill patient to show the importance of oral hygiene to the unconscious or intubated patient. This essay will also examine what types of equipment may be used in the delivery of mouth care, what an oral assessment entails and how oral care may be implemented.
The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract and its function can be summarised as follows:-
„« Analysis of material before swallowing
„« Mechanical processing due to the actions of the teeth, tongue and palatal surfaces
„« Lubrication by mixing with mucus and salivary …