Public Health England releases new oral care guidelines for hospitalised COVID-19 patients

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Public Health England has released new oral care guidelines for patients hospitalised with COVID-19. 

New advice, which is designed to cater for patients with severe symptoms, as well as those suspected of having COVID-19 in addition to other health conditions, aims to improve dental care for hospital patients, prevent infections and lower the risk of bacterial pneumonia. 

Oral care advice for patients on a ventilator includes wetting the mouth and using a swab or a soft toothbrush with alcohol-free mouthwash to keep the mouth clean, moistening the lips to keep them damp and removing dentures and storing them in a safe place. 

For non-ventilated patients, the guidelines encourage those who are able to brush their teeth to do so regularly. For those who can’t clean their own teeth, care teams are encouraged to support brushing and to keep the lips moist. If a patient suffers from dry mouth, they should be urged to take sips of water throughout the day and to drink slowly and steadily after eating. Electric toothbrushes are not recommended because they can spread droplets.

The guidance has been welcomed by dental hygienist, Anna Middleton, who claims that they will help medical teams to make patients more comfortable and to reduce the risk of dental diseases and additional infections, which could hamper COVID-19 recovery. 

There is a vast amount of evidence to support links between general health and oral health, so it is crucial to ensure that patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19 have access to oral care.

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