Oral health is essential to prevent pain, ensure adequate nutrition and promote optimum general and psychosocial wellbeing. The detrimental effects of poor oral health can often be overlooked, resulting in low prioritisation of oral care when compared to other care roles. A multidisciplinary approach to maintaining good oral health of dependent community patients must be established, with stakeholders including dentists, nurses, carers, and family members. This article aims to explore fundamental oral health considerations for community nurses to maintain oral health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) (2020) defined oral health as ‘a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual's capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing’. Patients treated in the community are often vulnerable, and their dependency on others for the provision of care can place them at an increased risk of developing oral health problems.
Poor oral health has been linked to an increase in hospital-acquired infections, poor nutritional uptake, longer hospital admissions and increased care costs (Terezakis et al, 2011). With most oral health conditions being largely preventable, an emphasis needs to be placed on appropriate education, assessment and early intervention to maintain both dignity and wellbeing.
This two-part series outlines common oral health conditions seen in community patients, the impact of oral health on general wellbeing and role of community nursing teams in the provision of oral care.
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