Current Content
Volume 37 - Number 5
September-October 2011

Oral Health Care For Hospitalized Children
Jo Young Blevins

Oral health care may be the greatest unmet health need of children in the U.S. Half of the children in the U.S. suffer from tooth decay by 8 years of age. The consequences of poor oral health are many, including mouth pain, inability to chew and eat, abscess and soft tissue infection, diminished self-esteem, and impaired school performance. Numerous medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, and developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and autism, have associated oral health implications. Oral health care is often neglected by nondental health providers. Nurses are in a unique position to contribute to the improvement of this national health problem by promoting oral health care among hospitalized children and their families. A hospital program for oral health care is proposed, including assessment of teeth and gingiva, ensuring oral care for all, as well as oral health education as part of patient education.