This study investigated the oral hygiene care (OHC) activities and attitudes of care providers in Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR) in the state of Iowa. Questionnaires were distributed to care providers employed at three ICF/MRs. About 98% of the staff ranked OHC as important to extremely important for residents. Twenty-three percent disliked OHC occasionally or more frequently. Lack of time and lack of staff were the main reasons preventing care providers from assisting residents with OHC. Residents' behaviors resulted in inadequate OHC for 64.9%, and 49% of residents required complete assistance with OHC. Most common OHC difficulties reported were residents biting the toothbrush, refusing OHC, or not opening their mouths. Subjects reported spending 3.0 minutes brushing a resident's teeth and 3.0 minutes cleaning dentures. Care providers experienced significant behavioral and physical difficulties while providing OHC, but still found OHC important. Training programs for care providers are needed to address these difficulties.