A pioneering new programme called Mini Mouthcare Matters (Mini MCM) is being implemented at Great Ormond Street Hospital in order to deliver critical oral care.

For seriously ill children, a simple toothbrush can be critical to health and wellbeing. This is the message being delivered to medical teams at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) by paediatric dental consultant Urshla Devalia.

Nurses, health care assistants and doctors working at the hospital are to be trained by Ms Devalia and GOSH specialist dental nurse, Claire Fletcher, to help implement Mini Mouthcare Matters (Mini MCM).

In future, staff on paediatric wards will integrate dental health into the overall care they offer. For instance, they will ask young patients – or their parents – if they have brought in a toothbrush for their overnight stay and when they last saw a dentist.

The programme is funded by Health Education England and GOSH will be working in collaboration with Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and University College London Hospitals with a view to rolling the programme out nationally in 2019.

Ms Devalia, a member of BSPD’s executive committee, aims to empower all healthcare professionals working in hospitals with paediatric wards to incorporate oral health into the care routine. Mini Mouthcare Matters should be applicable to any hospital with a paediatric in-patient base.

Ms Devalia said: 'Our young patients are already struggling with complex and serious conditions. It’s vital that there is no risk of an infection in the mouth which could cause complications in their treatment. By integrating dental hygiene into overall care, health professionals can take every opportunity to highlight how important a healthy mouth and teeth are to general wellbeing.'

To support ward nurses and healthcare assistants, the MCM initiative will be developing:

  • An oral health policy and tooth brushing chart that will be fully adaptable to any hospital trust
  • An oral health screening tool to identify patients who may be at a high risk of developing oral problems
  • A training package which will encourage all nursing, medical and health care professionals to “lift the lip” and identify common oral health/dental conditions
  • A range of tools applicable to paediatric in-patients that can be used by all hospitals hoping to join Mini MCM, including posters, booklets and baseline audit tools.

Mini MCM was inspired by a programme dedicated to improving the oral care of older residents in hospital, care homes and community settings in the Kent, Surrey & Sussex region, a scheme with which our newest editorial board member Sarah Haslam is involved.

Ms Devalia acknowledged the advice and support of Mili Doshi, founder of MCM, and her team.

Ms Devalia has developed new protocols appropriate to her patients. 'We are communicating with anxious parents and carers, as well as their children. Both generations need to be educated to limit sweet snacks and drinks, keeping them to mealtimes only and to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.'