Health care professionals' perspectives on oral care for long-term care residents: nursing staff, speech-language pathologists and dental hygienists

Gerodontology. 2012 Jun;29(2):e525-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2011.00513.x. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Background: Oral health has been identified as a key factor in general health and systemic disease in long-term care populations. To optimise oral health of this population, it is important to understand the oral care perspectives held by health care professionals involved in oral care provision.

Objectives: To explore perspectives regarding oral care held by nursing staff, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and dental hygienists (DHs) in long-term care institutions and to understand how their perspectives impact activities and processes involved in the delivery of oral care.

Methods: A focus group methodology was utilised. Separate focus groups for each targeted profession were held. Transcribed data were analysed using constant comparative analysis.

Results: Daily oral health maintenance and monitoring was considered a role of nursing staff. SLPs and DHs have roles focusing on advocacy, education and supplemental care. Social factors motivate nursing staff to provide oral care, whereas factors related to the general health consequences of poor oral health underlined the motivations of SLPs and DHs.

Conclusions: Education and training initiatives incorporating social aspects of oral health may be more effective for motivating nursing staff than approaches emphasising physical risk factors. Organisations can foster environments that support collaboration and communication amongst the members of multidisciplinary teams in order to promote oral health as a priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Dental Care / psychology*
  • Dental Hygienists / education
  • Dental Hygienists / psychology*
  • Education, Nursing
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Long-Term Care / psychology*
  • Motivation
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Oral Health
  • Oral Hygiene / education
  • Oral Hygiene / psychology*
  • Organizational Policy
  • Patient Advocacy
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / prevention & control
  • Professional Role
  • Speech-Language Pathology* / education
  • Workforce
  • Workload