Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Practice Recommendations
  1. Nurses should be aware of their personal oral hygiene beliefs and practices, as these may influence the care they provide to their clients.
  2. As part of their client admission assessment, nurses obtain an oral health history that includes oral hygiene beliefs, practices and current state of oral health.
  3. Nurses use a standardized, valid and reliable oral assessment tool to perform their initial and ongoing oral assessment.
  4. Oral health status information is regularly reviewed with all members of the health care team to monitor client progress and facilitate the development of an individualized plan of care.
  5. Nurses provide, supervise, remind or cue oral care for clients at least twice daily, on a routine basis. This includes clients who:
    • have diminished health status;
    • have a decreased level of consciousness; and
    • who have teeth (dentate) or do not have teeth (edentate).
  6. Nurses provide or supervise the provision of oral care for clients at risk for aspiration.
  7. Nurses provide ongoing education to the client and/or family members regarding oral care.
  8. Nurses are knowledgeable of oral hygiene products and their applications as they pertain to their specific client populations.
  9. Nurses are aware of treatments and medications that impact on the oral health of clients.
  10. Nurses use appropriate techniques when providing oral care to clients.
  11. Nurses advocate for referral for those clients who require consultation with an oral health professional (e.g. dental hygienist, denturist, dentist).
  12. Nurses ensure that all oral health-related history, assessment and care be documented.