|Oral Hygiene Care in the Pediatric
Intensive Care Unit: Practice
Oral hygiene significantly affects children’s well being. It is an integral part of
intensive and critical care nursing because intubated and ventilated children in
the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) are dependent on the health care team
to tend to their everyday basic needs. Fourteen articles were identified as being
relevant to pediatric oral care in the PICU. These articles were subsequently
appraised, and an oral hygiene in the PICU guideline was developed. Research
highlighted the relationship between poor oral hygiene in the intensive care unit
(ICU) and an increase in dental plaque accumulation, bacterial colonization of
the oropharynx, and higher nosocomial infection rates, particularly ventilatorassociated
pneumonia. Research and a local, informal audit found the provision
of oral hygiene care to PICU children varied widely and was often inadequate.
Children in the PICU need their mouths regularly assessed and cleaned.
Maintaining consistent, regular, and standardized oral hygiene practices in the
PICU will also set an example for children and their families, encouraging and
teaching them about the life-long importance of oral hygiene.