Oral Hygiene For Unconscious Patient – A Complete Guide

Oral hygiene for unconscious patients is important to reduce the risk of infection. It includes proper positioning and cleaning the mouth and lips. Ideally, it would be best if you used non-foaming toothpaste. In addition, you should lubricate the lips to avoid them from cracking. Afterward, you should rinse your mouth thoroughly.

Good oral hygiene lowers the risk of infection

It is essential to perform oral hygiene for unconscious patients, as these patients often cannot perform self-care tasks. They are susceptible to bacterial colonization of the oral cavity, which can lead to dental caries, respiratory infections, and xerostomia. One cubic millimeter of dental plaque contains 100 million bacteria, which can act as pathogens’ reservoirs.¬†

Good oral hygiene lowers the risk of infection

Micro-aspiration of oral bacteria is common, especially during sleep. Micro-aspiration likely contains bacteria that cause infection and should be stopped immediately.

It is important to brush the teeth and lubricate the lips of an unconscious patient. The use of a soft toothbrush and mouthwash is recommended. 

Brushing the patient’s teeth should be done every four hours. Flossing is also necessary to prevent the buildup of plaque and tooth decay. Performing oral hygiene for unconscious patients is even more important if they wear braces.

It is also crucial to keep the mouth moist by applying mouthwash or petroleum jelly. These can help prevent dry mouth, plaque, and fungal infections. Additionally, syringes with water can be used to rinse the patient’s mouth and remove debris.

How to Perform Oral Care for Unconscious Patient

Inadequate oral care is detrimental to a patient’s health and emotional well-being. It affects their ability to interact with others and can impair their quality of life. Additionally, inadequate oral care increases the risk of infection in unconscious patients. Nurses should be aware of the risks of poor oral hygiene and assess their patient’s oral hygiene.

In addition to dental caries, bad breath may signal a systemic disease. It can also be a sign of drug side effects or trauma.

In such cases, early evaluation is essential, as early treatment promotes immediate improvement. Additionally, the patient may experience a change in taste. Despite the bad breath, it is important to keep the mouth healthy. Patients may also experience drooling. It is usually the result of difficulty swallowing saliva.

Non-foaming toothpaste is preferred

Non-foaming toothpaste is preferred for oral hygiene for an unconscious patient. A non-foaming toothpaste is better suited for patients whose mobility is impaired and who cannot be awake for routine oral care. Patients should also be provided with a padded tongue swab to assist with oral hygiene.

In critically ill patients, it is essential to provide regular oral hygiene since the mouth can become clogged with sordes and bacteria. Brushing the teeth and gums as often as possible, even if the patient is unconscious. It may include using a toothbrush, floss, or mouthwash.

Non-foaming toothpaste is preferred

An unconscious patient is at risk for aspiration during oral hygiene, so proper suction must be set up before performing any oral hygiene. Proper positioning and techniques can also reduce the risk of aspiration. The ideal position for an unconscious patient is side-lying with their head turned toward the caregiver.

Other positions include the flat head of the bed and the semi-Fowler’s position. These positions allow fluid to drain out and prevent aspiration. A soft-bristle toothbrush and non-foaming toothpaste are recommended for the oral hygiene of unconscious patients.

To perform oral hygiene for unconscious patients, you must ensure that the mouth is open. To do this, you may need to use a tongue depressor to help open the mouth. Also, ensure that you clean the tongue and the rest of the mouth gently. Once you are finished, wipe out all excess toothpaste and saliva.

Oral Hygiene For Unconscious Patients

Positioning an unconscious patient for oral hygiene requires some special care. The first consideration is to ensure that there is no obstruction to the airway. It will reduce the chance of aspiration. It also ensures that the nurse can easily reach the patient’s mouth. In addition, this position will allow for thorough cleaning of the mouth without placing too much pressure on the patient’s face.

Oral Hygiene For Unconscious Patient

Before cleaning an unconscious patient’s mouth, gather supplies and identify yourself. It is important to provide privacy and comfort to the patient. After that, raise the bed head to an appropriate level. You can position the patient’s mouth open using a tongue depressor. After positioning the patient properly, proceed to brush and floss the patient’s teeth and suction any secretions.

Oral hygiene for unconscious patients is as important as oral care for the waking patient. The details of this routine may vary depending on the patient’s condition. The goal is to keep the mouth clean and free of debris, including bacteria and plaque. You may want to use a brush that has soft bristles.

Barriers to oral hygiene

To improve oral hygiene care for critically ill patients, it is important to identify the barriers that prevent proper oral hygiene. Oral hygiene care should be a high priority for critical care nurses. Establishing appropriate timing and frequency for oral hygiene care is crucial, and further research is needed to identify the optimal oral hygiene practice for this patient population.

Several mechanical barriers often block the mouth of an unconscious patient. These can include an oral airway, an endotracheal tube, a gastrostomy tube, and a temperature probe. This makes it difficult to perform effective oral hygiene even for experienced critical care nurses.

For unconscious patients, it is especially important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean their teeth. It is crucial to brush their teeth gently and rinse thoroughly. They should also use mouthwash or a water-soluble lubricant. Ensure that the lips are moisturised to prevent them from cracking.

Oral Care Tips For Patients

Caregivers often hesitate to intervene intraorally because they feel like it invades their personal space. Some even prefer to clean the prosthesis outside the mouth instead. Despite these challenges, caregivers should remember that the unconscious patient is likely to require assistance with daily activities. Proper oral hygiene can improve the quality of life for the patient and prevent health complications.

One study found that the length of critical care nursing experience was unrelated to the quality of oral hygiene care for critically ill patients. Other factors that affected the quality of oral hygiene care included adequate time for the procedure and the perception that oral care is unpleasant. Nursing-led research needs to focus on these factors when designing an oral hygiene care program for a critically ill patient.


Critical care nurses often face challenges in providing oral hygiene for unconscious patients. It may be due to the patient’s medical condition or the presence of certain mechanical barriers. However, caregivers must make every effort to ensure that the patient’s mouth remains clean and free of debris. Proper oral hygiene can improve the quality of life for the patient and prevent health complications.