Cochrane Summaries

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Staff-led interventions for improving oral hygiene in patients following stroke

Brady MC, Furlanetto D, Hunter R, Lewis SC, Milne V
Published Online: 
6 July 2011

A clean mouth not only feels good but the practice of oral hygiene (removing dental plaque and traces of food) is a crucial factor in maintaining the health of the mouth, teeth and gums. A clean and healthy mouth will also prevent pain or discomfort and allow people to eat a range of nutritious foods. Maintaining good oral hygiene may be difficult after a stroke and healthcare staff may have to assist in providing such care. This review of three studies involving 470 participants found little evidence of how this care is best delivered. Information on a small number of nursing home residents who had a stroke (67 participants from a larger trial) showed that training nursing staff improved their knowledge of oral care and resulted in improved oral hygiene in their patients. Another trial demonstrated the beneficial impact of a decontamination gel on the incidence of pneumonia amongst patients in a stroke ward. However, there was no other information on how best to provide oral hygiene and more studies are urgently needed.