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Oral Health and Community Nursing: a Practical Guide to the Delivering Better Oral Health Toolkit for Adults

02 August 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 8


Despite being largely preventable, oral diseases are the major contributor to chronic conditions nationally and globally. If left untreated, oral diseases have many harmful effects throughout life on our patients including pain and infection, and can lead to difficulties with eating, sleeping, socialising and wellbeing. Oral health inequalities exist across our population, and particularly affect vulnerable, disadvantaged and socially excluded groups in society. Oral health is a key indicator for overall health, and is inextricably interlinked with general health. Hence, existing health messages that community nursing teams provide contribute towards oral health. Community nurses are in an established position to provide and reinforce positive oral health messages to their patients, as well as signpost to available dental services. This paper aims to support community nurses with a practical resource for key evidence-based oral health preventative advice, and input into how their patients can access dental care.

Community nurses provide invaluable care to patients across the life course—from health visitors supporting new mothers and newborns, to frailty nurses supporting older adults living with frailty and complex needs (NHS England, 2023). Community nursing teams form part of the largest group of professionals in the healthcare workforce and serve patient groups that are at greater risk of oral disease. Furthermore, contact with a wide range of patients mean that community nursing teams are in a prime position to promote and reinforce positive health messages, particularly to vulnerable groups. This is in alignment with the principles of ‘Making every contact count’—an approach to behavioural change that utilises the multiple day-to-day interactions that organisations and teams have with patient groups to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health, and wellbeing (Public Health England and NHS England, 2016).

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