Effective elimination of contaminants after oral care in elderly institutionalized individuals

Geriatr Nurs. Jul-Aug 2014;35(4):295-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2014.03.003. Epub 2014 Apr 20.


After mechanical cleaning in oral care, eliminating residual oral contaminants has an important role in preventing their aspiration, especially in individuals with weak airway protection. We examined the effectiveness of wiping the oral cavity after oral care on eliminating contaminants in 31 patients who were hospitalized in our neurology inpatient unit. The amount of bacteria on the tongue, palate, and buccal vestibule was counted before and just after oral care, after eliminating contaminants either by rinsing with water and suction or by wiping with mouth wipes, and 1 h after oral care. Oral bacteria amounts were decreased significantly by both elimination procedures after oral care. These findings suggest that wiping with mouth wipes is as effective as mouth rinsing to decrease bacteria following oral care. With a lower risk of contaminant aspiration, wiping may be a suitable alternative to rinsing, especially in dysphagic individuals.

Keywords: Dysphagia; Oral bacteria; Oral care; Oral contaminants; Rinsing; Wiping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Institutionalization*
  • Male
  • Mouth / microbiology
  • Oral Hygiene*
  • Prospective Studies