Perform Mouth Care on a Patient with Teeth

Care Plan: A resident who has his/her natural teeth is lying in bed and needs mouth care. The resident is not able to provide own mouth care.


Click on each question to view the answer…

Will I have to brush every patient’s teeth?

No, you will only have to perform care that the patient cannot perform, according to the care plan.  If the patient is able to brush his teeth and can get to the bathroom, he will perform self-care.  If he cannot get to the sink, you will bring the supplies and allow him to brush, then clean up.  If the patient cannot perform any of this skill independently, you will do it all.  The care plan will instruct you on what this patient will require.

Are gloves required for this skill?

Yes.  You will be touching body fluids (saliva), therefore gloves must be worn.  However, only put your gloves on immediately prior to brushing the teeth so that you do not contaminate the gloves before use.

Does the bed have to be all the way up, or just until the patient is comfortable?

The head of the bed needs to be elevated to the fullest upright position to minimize the risk of aspiration. Failing to elevate the head of the bed to a 90° angle can increase the risk of aspiration in some patients.

Where I dump out the saliva in the basin – in the sink or in the toilet?

Body fluids are generally disposed of where they would normally be disposed of.  Most people brush their teeth over a sink.  Therefore, waste products for this skill will be disposed of in the sink.

How long do I have to brush the patient's teeth for this skill?

There is no set time that must be completed for this skill. However, you must demonstrate that all surfaces are being brushed adequately.

Why aren’t safety rails used to keep the patient safe during this skill?

Side-rails are considered a restraint because they keep a patient confined to bed, possibly against their will.  Most people have no trouble remaining in bed without the use of side-rails.  Just because someone is older or ill does not mean that they are at risk of falling out of bed.  Side-rails are only used with a doctor’s order.