Oral Hygiene Care in Patients With Advanced Disease: An Essential Measure to Improve Oral Cavity Conditions and Symptom Management

Caterina Magnani, Chiara Mastroianni, Diana Giannarelli, Maria Consiglia Stefanelli, Valeria Di Cienzo, Teresa Valerioti, Giuseppe Casale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oral problems are frequent in palliative care and can cause disabling symptoms such as orofacial pain, dysgeusia, and xerostomia. Even if oral care is an essential aspect of nursing, it is often not considered as a priority, especially when various complex patients’ needs have to be managed. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe oral conditions and evaluate the impact of standard oral care on symptom control and patient’s perceived comfort in a sample of terminally ill patients. Method: A prospective cohort study was carried out among 415 patients who were admitted to hospice. Patients were recruited before undergoing standard assisted procedure for oral hygiene care. Oral cavity condition, symptoms, and comfort were assessed at the recruitment (T0) and after 3 days (T2). Results: Seventy-five eligible patients were recruited. The Oral Assessment Guide score was significantly decreased after oral standard care (P value <.0001). The average time spent by nursing staff for oral hygiene care was 5.3 minutes. Dysgeusia and xerostomia were significantly decreased after oral standard care (P =.02 and P =.03). Patients reported a high level of comfort (86.6%) after the procedures for oral hygiene care. Conclusion: Patients admitted to hospice had frequent alterations in oral cavity with partial loss of its functions that can compromise their quality of life. Standard procedures for oral hygiene care are simple and fast to perform, and they may improve oral cavity conditions, symptoms control, and patients’ comfort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-819
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • advanced disease
  • hospice
  • mucositis
  • oral care
  • oral problems
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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