Oral health of psychiatric patients: the nurse's perspective

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Objective:To assess nurses’ perspectives on character, prevalence and cause of oral diseases among psychiatric patients and also their approach and suggestions in relation to the care of oral problems. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional survey of all cadres of nurses (n = 136) at the Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria, was conducted between December 2010 and January 2011. Results: Two-thirds (67.6%) of the respondents reported that psychiatric in-patients in comparison with the general population have a higher occurrence of oral and dental problems. Commonly cited reasons for the poor oral health of patients included as follows: sedation for long periods, lack of care by family, psychopathological symptoms, poor access to dentists and lack of oral hygiene advice. The common oral health complaints received by the respondents included toothache, pain from the gums and inability to open the mouth. Majority (91.4%) of respondents claimed to be presently involved with oral care of psychiatric in-patients but oral care delivery is however bedevilled with lot of barriers like uncooperativeness of patients and lack of oral care materials. Conclusion: Oral complaints received are frequent and numerate with limited palliative action rendered. Attaching dentists to psychiatric hospitals and regular training of psychiatric nurses on oral care delivery are recommended to comprehensively cater for the oral health problems of psychiatric in-patients.

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