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.