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Child dental health, Hospitalized children, Oral health, Teeth.



  1. Blevins, Jo Young DNP, RN, CPN


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine the level of oral health care provided to hospitalized children on acute care units at a children's hospital in an academic medical center with a dental school.


Study Design and Methods: The research design was descriptive. Data were collected using a short written survey for parents and a brief online survey for nurses. A convenience sample of 49 pediatric nurses and 59 parents of hospitalized children participated.


Results: According to the parents, 17% of the hospitalized children brushed their teeth more than once a day, yet 60% of these same children brushed more than once a day when at home. According to the nurse respondents, their assessments, interventions, health teaching, and referrals related to oral care are done infrequently. Over 40% of the nurses responded that they do not educate patients about oral hygiene, and 61.2% provide no nutritional education in relation to oral health. The majority (65.3%) had never entered documentation related to broken teeth or cavities, and 85.7% had never advised patients to see a dentist.


Clinical Implications: The findings of this study indicate a need for improved oral health care for hospitalized children. Pediatric nurses can contribute to the identification, care, and prevention of oral health problems in children. This begins by performing and documenting oral assessments, ensuring patients brush their teeth, including oral health promotion in parent-child education, and making needed oral health referrals.