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Oral Care for Hospitalized Children

In the scope of this review, the article “Oral health care for hospitalized children” by Young Blevins, published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing would be analyzed. In this article, the author emphases the fact that in accordance with the information, presented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oral health care is considered to be one of the greatest health needs among children in the US. Even while referring to the fact that oral health care is considered an essential part of the overall healthcare services, it is still neglected. The main contributors to patients’ health are pediatric nurses.

According to the thesis statement, provided by the author, it is possible to refer to the fact that nurses take advantage in the terms of opportunity of providing high quality oral health care, which is mainly directed at health promotion of children and young-aged patients, who are currently hospitalized. Usually, the following aspects of care are included into oral health care for children – oral hygiene, assessment and education. Oral health care for children is considered to be an integrative part of hospital nursing care.

While investigating the Scope of Poor Oral Health, the author emphasized the fact that in accordance with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey report, 1994-2004, 42% of U.S. children aged 2 to 11 years, experienced tooth decay in their primary teeth.

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Preparing a research design is a critical part of every research. Although, there are different steps, a high level of interaction between them is visible. Interaction is viewed in the form of the notion that applies a measurement instrument that determines the type of analysis tools, which are used. In turn, the definite features of the measurement instrument also influence the nature of analysis that is conducted.

Different methods have been applied by the authors when investigating and analyzing the scope of oral healthcare services provided to the children population of the US. The previous studies, which were based on a variety of methods, have been synthesized by the authors with additional attention being paid to limitations and assumptions, implied by each particular method.

Researchers intended to employ a combination of secondary data based on the nature of the research. The major reason for such choice is the fact that the secondary sources of data are useful in highlighting the current state of affairs because they present what has been considered or reviewed by other researchers.

In the process of data collection, several options are available, including experimental data and secondary data. Secondary data is sourced to serve as a guide in the initial stages of a study. Such information was supportive in understanding what the field of study entails or what has been done so far in the field. As a result, the works of other researchers are considered with a view to illuminating what needs to be done. This informed the researchers about the need to refine the proposed approaches of data collection to suit the study.

Consequences and Outcomes of Poor Oral Health Care.

The next issue to be discussed in this paper is the consequences and outcomes of poor oral health care. Nowadays, tooth decay is considered the most common health problem. Children, who fail to carry out effective oral care, may face the problem of cavities or caries. The core reason for that is the fact that those microorganisms, which inhabit the mouth, produce acids from dietary carbohydrates (such as sugars). Tooth enamel is decalcified by these acids leading to decay. Streptococcus Mutans is the primary pathogen, which leads to the occurrence of dental caries. Such pathogens as Strepto – coccus sobrinus and Streptococcus mutans are transferred from mothers to their children through contaminated saliva. That is why it is possible to state that dental caries is a transmissible infectious disease. In addition, it is essential to refer to the fact that the important role in the oral care belongs to saliva because of its protective functions such as provision of acid buffering agents, provision and prevention of cavities etc. That is why it is obvious that any condition, which alters normal salivary function, may have a negative impact on oral health.

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Decay in the primary teeth is reflected by early childhood caries (ECC). The core reason for the occurrence of ECC is a prolonged contact with fermentable liquid, sweets, sweetened pacifier and even breastfeeding.

The set of the above listed carious lesions are mainly attributed to the  anterior pattern of decay, inadequate oral hygiene and inappropriate feeding practices (Yost & Li, 2008). The following terms are applied to defining ECC – nursing bottle mouth or nursing caries. Scholars consider that ECC causes stress to a child, his/her family, and the society as a whole. It is essential to refer to the fact that in majority of cases, the health care systems face and deal with acute cases. That is why both in emergency department and in operating room, the underlying cause of emergent pain/infection and of decay is left untreated.

In accordance with scientific researches, conducted by Caufield and Griffen (2000), inability to chew, sensitivity to cold and heat, mouth pain and even facial cellulitis may be caused by caries development. In addition, there is a high probability that inadequate nutrition may be the negative consequence of the difficulties, associated with mouth diseases, and consequently, with eating.

In addition, there is a strong interrelation between poor oral health and its psychosocial effects. For instance, decay and halitosis may be the reasons of low self esteem, and consequently, can lead to reluctance to talk, smile and to communicate with other people. Moreover, teeth pain or mouth pain may cause sleep difficulties or concentration problems. Such negative trends, in turn, may be reflected in the low rate of school performance or other mental and physical activities.

The author puts an emphasis on the fact that oral hygiene, assessment and education should be included into quality oral health care. Successful implementation of oral health care leads to awareness in terms of oral health. That is why, properly developed care plans may have positive contributions to the evidence-based practice in terms of guiding this aspect of the healthcare (which is highly important but often neglected one). Consequently, there is an urgent need of taking advantage of the existing opportunity to improve children’s oral health and their overall health both in the hospital and beyond.

The author relies on the fact that there is an identified gap between research-based literature and the current state of affairs in terms of provision of oral health care to children in health care entities. That is why there is an urgent need to conduct nursing research in all areas, which are related to oral health care, including validation of screening tools for the oral/dental health of children and assessment of nurses’ knowledge of dental health.

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To conclude, the author has claimed that high quality oral health care should include oral hygiene, assessment, education and successful implementation of oral health care. Such an approach should be implemented in collaboration with dentists. In addition, the author of the research emphasized the fact that the properly developed plan of care can contribute to the evidence-based practice for guiding this essential, and at the same time, often neglected aspect of care.

For instance, acute care nurses should take the opportunity to contribute to children’s oral and overall health improvement in the hospital and beyond.

Young (2011) claimed that there was a gap in the literature in relation to children’s oral health care in hospitals. Thus, there is a need to conduct proper research from the perspectives of dental health, validation of screening methods for dental/oral health of children, practical implementation of effective programs in terms of oral health, alternative approaches towards providing preventive education, as well as the current state of collaboration in the area of dental nursing. It is considered by the author of the article that such type of research may assist pediatric nurses in terms of provision of the best oral health care guidelines.