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Mental health patients' oral hygiene needs 'not being assessed'

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Oral healthcare is an important part of treatment for mental health inpatients that may be missed by nurses, according to Australia researchers.

“Oral health and oral inflammatory disease are the result of lifestyle and behaviour and mental disorders affect both lifestyle and behaviour,” they said in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing.

They carried out a study review of papers published between 2005 and 2010, and concluded that oral health assessments were not routinely made in mental health patients.

The authors said: “Routine oral care for hospitalised patients is imperative, and this is usually the responsibility of nurses without sufficient knowledge in oral care or comprehensive protocols to follow.”

With the right training and protocols, they add: “Nursing care can play an important role in the oral health requirements of the hospitalised mental health patients and this information can form part of discharge planning to community care.”

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