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Introduction to the course

Oral health is important at every stage of life and especially for the people that you care for.
Professor Martin Ashley introduces Mouth Care Matters
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[ACOUSTIC GUITAR] Over the last 10 years, we’ve become more aware of how many people around us can’t look after their own mouth. We’ve always known that we need to help our young children to keep their mouth clean. This can be tricky every day, but we learn how to do it, and we learn from other people who seem to know what to do. But as a dentist, as someone working in healthcare every day, I see other people who can’t look after their own mouth well enough.
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These people are patients in our hospitals, they are living in our care homes and nursing homes, or they’re still in their own homes, often relying on other people, relying on family, friends, and carers to look after them each day. We see that these people are struggling to care for themselves. They often can’t wash themselves, dress, eat and drink, shave, or cut their own nails without the help and support of others. From our point of view, they really struggle to keep their mouth clean enough every day.
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Our people are living longer than ever before, are keeping more natural teeth than ever before, but are facing more problems with their teeth and mouth than ever before. In the UK we have around a million people who have survived a stroke, many of these need care from someone else. We also have around a million people who are living with dementia, with the challenges that this will give them. These people generally don’t have clean mouths. And, of course, having a clean mouth, having good oral health, is really important.
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It has a big impact on how confident we are, how well we eat and drink, whether taking medication is easy or not, and whether we are in pain or get infections from our mouth. It can be difficult for a person to communicate why and where they have pain. Good oral health will also reduce the risk of malnutrition and dehydration, which is thought to affect over a million older people. And it will reduce the risk of getting pneumonia, as bacteria from the mouth travels into the lungs, causing life-threatening infections. In 2016 the National Institutes for Health and Care Excellence, NIHCE, published a guidance for oral care for adults in nursing and care homes and in hospitals.
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Their recommendations aimed to improve the oral health by improving daily mouth care. In 2019 the Care Quality Commission,
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the CQC, published a report, “Smiling Matters: Oral health care in care homes.” This described the oral health problems facing those people who live in care homes, and recommended what needs to be done to improve their oral health. Over this time, we have understood that most people who care for someone else probably don’t have the confidence and understanding to provide the mouth care that is needed. In our hospitals across the UK, we have been working as Mouth Care Matters to help all those involved in healthcare to have the skills and confidence to look after someone else’s mouth.
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We know how important it is to teach people how to look and feel inside a mouth, how to use a toothbrush correctly, how to clean dentures, how to make a dry mouth comfortable, and how to make a dirty mouth clean and healthy again. This is no different from what we need to learn if we care for someone else in their own home, or in a care home or a nursing home. So these films are one way to share with you what we know about mouth care, about helping other people having a clean mouth, having good oral health. You will meet people who are carers and people who need their help.
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You will learn about simple equipment that’s really useful and easy to use. You will learn about some of the mouth conditions that people suffer from, and how to document what we find and what we do when looking after someone else. We hope you enjoy these films, and we know each person you care for will have a cleaner and healthier mouth.

We recognise that oral health is important at every stage of a person’s life and that all of us, at some stage, will need some help with our own mouth care. As you are involved in providing healthcare for another person, we want you to be confident in the care that you give.

In our first week together, you will meet our course educator, Professor Martin Ashley and a number of colleagues who work in our hospitals, who all discuss and reflect on delivering mouth care for people with a variety of conditions. We consider why mouth care does matter and explore the national guidance that is driving the improvement in mouth care in our hospitals and care homes.

We begin by learning some of the core oral health knowledge, such as what the inside of our own mouth looks like. We then find out about dental plaque, toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash. Even though much of this relates to learning about our own mouth, we will be more able to understand how and why we deliver really effective mouth care for those people we look after.

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Mouth Care Matters

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