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Comparison of foam swabs and toothbrushes as oral hygiene interventions in mechanically ventilated patients: a randomised split mouth study

Marino, Paola Jimena, Hannigan, Ailish, Haywood, Sean, Cole, Jade M., Palmer, Nicki, Emanuel, Charlotte, Kinsella, Tracey, Lewis, Michael Alexander Oxenham ORCID:, Wise, Matthew Peter and Williams, David Wynne ORCID: 2016. Comparison of foam swabs and toothbrushes as oral hygiene interventions in mechanically ventilated patients: a randomised split mouth study. BMJ Open Respiratory Research 2016 (3) , e000150. 10.1136/bmjresp-2016-000150

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Abstract Introduction During critical illness, dental plaque may serve as a reservoir of respiratory pathogens. This study compared the effectiveness of toothbrushing with a small-headed toothbrush or a foam-headed swab in mechanically ventilated patients. Methods This was a randomised, assessor-blinded, split-mouth trial, performed at a single critical care unit. Adult, orally intubated patients with >20 teeth, where >24 hours of mechanical ventilation was expected were included. Teeth were cleaned 12-hourly using a foam swab or toothbrush (each randomly assigned to one side of the mouth). Cleaning efficacy was based on plaque scores, gingival index and microbial plaque counts. Results High initial plaque (mean=2.1 (SD 0.45)) and gingival (mean=2.0 (SD 0.54)) scores were recorded for 21 patients. A significant reduction compared with initial plaque index occurred using both toothbrushes (mean change=−1.26, 95% CI −1.57 to −0.95; p<0.001) and foam swabs (mean change=−1.28, 95% CI −1.54 to −1.01; p<0.001). There was significant reduction in gingival index over time using toothbrushes (mean change=−0.92; 95% CI −1.19 to −0.64; p<0.001) and foam swabs (mean change=−0.85; 95% CI −1.10 to −0.61; p<0.001). Differences between cleaning methods were not statistically significant (p=0.12 for change in gingival index; p=0.24 for change in plaque index). There was no significant change in bacterial dental plaque counts between toothbrushing (mean change 3.7×104 colony-forming units (CFUs); minimum to maximum (−2.5×1010 CFUs, 8.7×107 CFUs)) and foam swabs (mean change 9×104 CFUs; minimum to maximum (−3.1×1010 CFUs, 3.0×107 CFUs)). Conclusions Patients admitted to adult intensive care had poor oral health, which improved after brushing with a toothbrush or foam swab. Both interventions were equally effective at removing plaque and reducing gingival inflammation. Trial registration number NCT01154257; Pre-results.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Subjects: R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Additional Information: Pdf uploaded in accordance with publisher's policy at (accessed 23/08/2016)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 2052-4439
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 August 2016
Date of Acceptance: 21 August 2016
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 17:48

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