An oral hygiene protocol improves oral health for patients in inpatient stroke rehabilitation

Joanne Murray, Ingrid Scholten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    The objective: To determine whether a simple oral hygiene protocol improves the oral health of inpatients in stroke rehabilitation. The background data discussing the present status of the field: Poor oral health can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia. The comorbidities associated with stroke, such as dysphagia, hemiparesis and cognitive impairment, can further impede independent oral care. International stroke guidelines recommend routine oral care but stop short of detailing specific regimes. Materials and methods: The oral health assessment tool (OHAT) was conducted by speech-language pathologists with 100 patients with and without dysphagia in three metropolitan inpatient stroke rehabilitation facilities. A simple nurse-led oral hygiene regime was then implemented with all participants, which included twice daily tooth brushing and mouth rinsing after lunch, and oral health was measured again one week later. Results: Initially, dysphagia was negatively associated with OHAT scores, and independence for oral hygiene was positively associated with oral health. After one week of a simple oral hygiene regime, the OHAT scores available for 89 participants indicated an improvement on average for all participants. In particular, 59% of participants with dysphagia had an improvement of 1 or more points. None of the participants developed pneumonia. Conclusion: A simple, inexpensive oral hygiene regime resulted in positive outcomes for patients with and without dysphagia in inpatient stroke rehabilitation settings. Oral health assessments and oral hygiene regimes that are simple to implement by the interdisciplinary team can be incorporated into standard stroke care with positive effect.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-24
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


    • clinical protocols
    • deglutition disorders
    • dysphagia
    • nursing
    • oral health
    • oral hygiene
    • rehabilitation
    • stroke


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