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Hospital Infections: Dental Biofilm

Dental hygiene is not part of the care patients are given. My dad is receiving treatment at one of the most acclaimed cancer centers in the world. In his hygiene package, he was given a tube of toothpaste, a mini hard-bristled toothbrush, and a Biotene mouth rinse. Due to the severity of my Dad’s operation, family members are by his side to provide around the clock attention.  Not once did I hear a nurse or doctor ask him if he is brushing his teeth twice a day.

Currently, cherry ices and applesauce are staples to his limited hospital diet, both full of sugar.

A biofilm can form on any surface exposed to bacteria. Dental biofilm is densely packed communities of microbial cells that stick to each other on the surface of teeth. A study states 50% of hospital infections are caused by dental biofilm. It may not be completely accurate but makes sense since in the hospital setting healthcare providers don’t seem to have the time to educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health.

Looking for a creative gift for a friend in the hospital? Bring them floss, Interdental brushes, and a Nimbus toothbrush, one that is very soft so it won’t cut gums and introduce infection.

I threw out the small hard hospital toothbrush and replaced it with a Nimbus. My dad had no choice but to try it. First he said, “Where is my toothbrush?” I told him it fell on the floor so I threw it out. When he came out of the bathroom, he told me how exceptional the toothbrush was that I left him and how it was the best toothbrush he had ever used. He made sure I packed it for him to take home. And I’ll be sure to replace it for him in 3 months.

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Comments 2

  1. Your statements about the dismal state of affairs of oral health care in hospital and extended care facilities is right on. For some reason, healthcare providers seem to think that the oral cavity is an area not to bother with, even though it is full of micro-organisms which are known to be problematic.

    Fortunately, your father had someone (you) who understands how important good oral care is; not only for one’s general health and well-being, but for ongoing oral health.

    Makes one wonder what the caregivers in the hospitals do for their own oral healthcare.

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