Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

Oral Health: Supporting Adults Who Require Assistance, Second Edition

Type of Guideline: 
Publication date: 
About this Guideline:

This best practice guideline (BPG) Oral Health: Supporting Adults Who Require Assistance Second Edition replaces the RNAO BPG Oral Health: Nursing Assessment and Intervention, which was released in 2008. The purpose of this next edition BPG is to provide nurses, the interprofessional team and caregivers with evidence-based recommendations for the provision of oral care for adults (18 years of age and older) that will: (a) promote an interprofessional approach to providing oral care, (b) enhance the delivery of oral care interventions, and (c) ultimately lead to positive oral health outcomes for persons. 

The BPG focuses on providing oral care across health settings to adults who require assistance with oral care in a continuum that ranges from the set-up of oral care supplies to full physical assistance with oral care. This BPG provides recommendations to support the delivery of oral care—including appropriate supervision, prompting and assistance—while still advocating for the person’s independence and autonomy. 

“The RNAO is to be commended for taking a proactive approach toward improving oral health among our most vulnerable patients. Millions of adults worldwide have unmet oral health needs and nurses can play a central role in reducing oral health disparities, oral-system disease and unnecessary suffering. The Best Practice Guideline (BPG) – Oral Health: Supporting Adults Who Require Assistance (2020) -  ensures any nurse, educator or administrator has access to concise and actionable evidence supporting oral care delivery for residents, patients, staff, and family carers.”

-  Craig Dale, Expert Panel Co-Chair


“Oral health is integral to overall health, but so often forgotten. Through a rigorous process of reviewing and appraising currently available evidence, the RNAO has developed the Oral Health: Supporting Adults Who Require Assistance BPG, which can support oral care delivery across different organizations.”

-  Minn Yoon, Expert Panel Co-Chair