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Mouth Care CNA Skill

Oral care for patients who are not conscious or are unable to consume food or drinks is vital for maintaining their oral health and preventing infections. There are slightly different techniques for assisting in a patient’s oral hygiene depending on their condition but it’s important to know both of them to pass the skills portion of the CNA exam. 

To learn all the necessary steps for this skill, please watch this mouth care CNA video for a complete demonstration. 

Mouth Care CNA Steps for Skills Exam

The process for providing mouth care to a patient during the CNA skills exam is as follows:

When working with an unconscious patient, the steps are as follows: 

  1. For this task you will need to wear gloves, so once you have put on a pair of gloves, place a towel over the patient’s chest and raise the bed to a position that allows you to perform your tasks easily, but not at an angle of more than 30 degrees. 
  2. Carefully turn the patient’s head in your direction, open their mouth with a tongue depressor and then use a toothbrush to clean the patient’s teeth, gums and tongue. Use a small amount of toothpaste so there isn’t a substantial amount of excess for the patient to swallow. 
  3. As you clean the patient’s mouth, look for any oral health issues such as signs of infection, abscesses or lesions.
  4. When you’ve finished with brushing, suction the saliva and toothpaste from the patients’ mouth and assist the patient back to a comfortable position. 
  5. Perform your standard completion tasks – wash your hands, ensure the patient has a clean environment, and close their privacy curtain.

For a patient who is conscious, the procedure is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Put on a pair of gloves and put a towel over the patient’s chest, raise their head to an angle you can perform the cleaning, but no higher than 30 degrees.
  3. Take a toothbrush and clean the patient’s teeth, gums, and tongue. Look for oral health issues as you clean the patient’s mouth including lesions, abscesses, or signs of infection. Use a small amount of toothpaste to avoid having the patient swallow the excess. 
  4. If the patient is able to accept water, provide them a small sip to swish and remove the remaining toothpaste. If they are not able, you will need to remove the excess toothpaste and salivea with suction. 
  5. Perform your standard completion tasks – wash your hands, ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give them their call light and close their privacy curtain.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for CNAs to provide mouth care are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.