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Mouth care at the end of life: ensuring comfort and dignity for your patients

Simple steps such as assessing pain and involving families in care can make a big difference
A nurse helps an elderly lady clean her teeth. Picture: Neil O'Connor

Simple steps such as assessing pain and involving families in care can make a big difference

Mouth problems, including a dry or painful mouth, infections and changes in taste, are all common issues in dying patients. Maintaining oral health is an essential part of good care in the final weeks and days of life, but expert nurses warn it is an area that is frequently neglected or not done well.

Guidance from charity Marie Curie, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines and the UK Oral Management in Cancer Care Group (UKOMiC) all emphasise the need to focus on this aspect of care, particularly in the final days of life.

UKOMiC chair Barry Quinn, Macmillan director

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