Natural history of dental plaque accumulation in mechanically ventilated adults: A descriptive correlational study

Deborah J. Jones, Cindy L. Munro, Mary Jo Grap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the pattern of dental plaque accumulation in mechanically ventilated adults. Accumulation of dental plaque and bacterial colonisation of the oropharynx is associated with a number of systemic diseases including ventilator associated pneumonia. Research methodology/design: Data were collected from mechanically ventilated critically ill adults (n=137), enrolled within 24. hours of intubation. Dental plaque, counts of decayed, missing and filled teeth and systemic antibiotic use was assessed on study days 1, 3, 5 and 7. Dental plaque averages per study day, tooth type and tooth location were analysed. Setting: Medical respiratory, surgical trauma and neuroscience ICU's of a large tertiary care centre in the southeast United States. Results: Plaque: all surfaces >60% plaque coverage from day 1 to day 7; molars and premolars contained greatest plaque average >70%. Systemic antibiotic use on day 1 had no significant effect on plaque accumulation on day 3 (p=0.73). Conclusions: Patients arrive in critical care units with preexisting oral hygiene issues. Dental plaque tends to accumulate in the posterior teeth (molars and premolars) that may be hard for nurses to visualise and reach; this problem may be exacerbated by endotracheal tubes and other equipment. Knowing accumulation trends of plaque will guide the development of effective oral care protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Dental plaque
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Oral care
  • Oral health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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