Current Content
Volume 36 - Number 2
March/April 2010

Oral Hygiene Care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: Practice Recommendations
Lisa Johnstone
Deb Spence
Jane Koziol-McLain

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.