Introduction: Oral hygiene is a significant aspect of nursing care. Endocarditis, stroke, lung cancer, and hypertension have been associated with poor oral hygiene. Research exploring oral care practices for mechanically ventilated patients is well documented. In contrast, oral hygiene for the non-mechanically ventilated acute care population remains underestimated. The purpose of this study was to establish a baseline of the type, frequency, and consistency of oral hygiene being performed on non-mechanically ventilated ICU patients and explore how the oral care provided was documented.

Methodology: A literature search was conducted and reported as a literature review. The databases CINAHL Plus with Full Text, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Academic Search Premier, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched. Key terms used were "oral hygiene," "oral care," "oral intensity," "mouth rinse," "mouth care," chlorhexidine rinse and ICU, "intensive care unit," "critical care" and infection*, pneumonia*, NV, non-ventilat*, and nonventilat*. The articles' selection addressed type, frequency, consistency, and/or documentation of oral hygiene in ICU patients, particularly non-mechanically ventilated patients, if available. Inclusion criteria consisted of English language, and academic journal articles. No specified publication date was placed as a restriction. The results were limited to English language, academic journal articles, peer reviewed research articles, evidence-based articles or practices, and articles published within the last ten years (2006 to 2016). All articles on oral hygiene practices in the ICU or critical care population were included. Articles that did not relate to oral hygiene practices in acute care, ICU patients, or critically ill hospitalized patients were excluded. Articles focused solely on the mechanically ventilated or intubated population were also excluded.

Results: The review yielded very few articles focusing solely on non-mechanically ventilated ICU patients. Nevertheless, resulting data showed four areas common to oral hygiene practices in non-mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU: type of documentation, type of products, frequency of care, and personnel providing care. Documentation was found to be lacking compared to personnel's self-reported frequency of oral care. Oral hygiene products were found to be consistent in non-mechanically ventilated patients, while there was no consistency of products used in the general acute care population. Oral hygiene was self-reported by staff members to have been performed an average of two to three times per day for non-mechanically ventilated patients. Oral hygiene self-reported frequency was found to be inconsistent among the general acute care population. Lastly, registered nurses (RNs) were the primary providers of oral hygiene to patients.

Conclusions: Findings support the existing gap in the literature on oral hygiene practices in non-mechanically ventilated patients in the ICU. Despite evidence documenting the impact of oral hygiene on health, further research is guaranteed.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Guido-Sanz, Francisco


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Release Date