Oral hygiene in patients is essential to maintain to prevent the spread of germs and to help speed their recovery process. Many patients are unable to do this service on their own and require extensive help to see it cared for properly.

How to Brush a Patient’s Teeth:


  • 2 Towels

  • Toothpaste

  • Cup of Clean Water

  • Toothbrush

  • Gloves

  • Wash Cloth

  • Emesis Basin


  1. Knock on the patient’s door and introduce yourself while stating your purpose.

  2. Provide for privacy by shutting the drapes.

  3. Wash hands and put on gloves (see the proper way to put on gloves on the bottom of this page, as this will be useful throughout your other skills).

  4. Check the patient’s ID (make sure it’s the right patient).

  5. Gather linens and supplies and place on the tray table covered with a towel.

  6. Ask the patient if it’s okay to raise the head of bed. Then raise to 60 degrees.

  7. Place the towel on the patient’s chest to keep their gown dry.

  8. Ask them if they have any cuts or sores in their mouth.

  9. Fill a cup halfway full of cold water from the sink. Have them take a sip and spit into the basin.

  10. Wet the toothbrush from a clean cup of water over the basin and put toothpaste on the toothbrush.

  11. Brush entire areas of the top teeth including gums. The pattern for brushing is outside teeth, then top teeth, and then inside teeth. Repeat this for bottom teeth.

  12. Ask patient to stick out their tongue and brush it.

  13. After brushing their teeth, have them spit the toothpaste into the basin and rinse. Always pat their mouth dry after each spit.

  14. Take the towel off the clothing protector and put it on the tray table with other dirty linens (keep dirty and clean separate at all times).

  15. Clean the toothbrush out in the sink and grab a paper towel to use as a barrier from the clean toothbrush and your hand as you put it away.

  16. Rinse out the emesis basin, at least twice with hot water, then pat dry and use a clean paper towel to put it away (again this is your barrier).

  17. Grab all linens from the tray table and put them in the dirty linen hamper.

  18. Remove gloves (see bottom of page for proper way to remove gloves).

  19. Wash hands for 20 seconds.

  20. Place the call light (emergency call button) in the patient’s hand. Provide for privacy, and ask how they would like the head of bed.

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