Khokhar, Waqqas, Williams, Katherine, Odeyemi, Oluwagbenga, Clarke, Tracy, Tarrant, Catharine and Clifton, Andrew (2011) Open wide: a dental health and toothbrush exchange project at an inpatient recovery and rehabilitation unit. Mental Health Review Journal, 16 (1). pp. 36-41. ISSN 1361-9322

Excess morbidity in people with enduring mental illness is well known. The promotion of healthier lifestyles and physical health monitoring has started to receive more attention in recent years. Despite this, the British Society for Disability and Oral Health (BSDH) has highlighted extensive unmet needs for inpatients with mental illness who have poor levels of oral health and hygiene compounded by restricted access to dental services. An audit cycle of oral health and hygiene was completed at Heather Close Recovery Unit (HCRU), Mansfield in 2009 and 2010, with the aims to improve the oral healthcare of the patients at HCRU and to develop the multidisciplinary team's ability to promote, monitor and enable patients to look after their dental health. A total of 59 people were helped to fill in the questionnaire during two audit runs. Improvement in access to toothbrushes increased from 68% to 86%. There is also an improvement in knowledge of basic oral hygiene practice from 55% to 61%. The ideally recommended practice of brushing teeth twice daily increased from 29% to 38% in our patients. There was a little improvement in the number of patients registered with the dentist since the last audit. We believe that prevention and early intervention are keys to addressing dental health problems in psychiatric patients. The improvement in oral/dental healthcare of patients with chronic mental illness should be seen as part of the holistic recovery package. Effective liaison with community preventive dentistry teams can play a vital role in educating mental health practitioners and patients.

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