Oral care when you eat via a tube

All I can say about the above photo is Really??… Yes, that is a porcelain crown. And yes, it was in my mouth, happily attached to a tooth for 30 years.

But, the other night when I was flossing before bed, out it came.

I was telling a friend about it (translation: ranting), and she was surprised that I feel the need to floss.  Well, I do, and so should you, if you are able.

I can remember as a child, getting those awful tasting fluoride  treatments, which, back in the day, had to stay on the teeth for what felt like an eternity.   And, despite responsible parents that took  me to a pediatric dentist twice a year, I got cavities.  Some people apparently are not blessed with great teeth, and I am among them.

And, I’ve been a fanatical brusher/flosser for the course of my adult life.   That helped, of course, but I’m still the proud owner of (I think) six root canals, one of which had the crown come off of it a couple of years ago, and I had to have the shell of the tooth which once existed there pulled because—ugh—its a long explanation.  Lets just stop at “because”.

That latest crown popping off  event triggered this post.

Now, I know that most of you who regularly read Tube Chic are not elderly.  But,  most research conducted concerning the overall health of tube fed adults focuses on the elderly (most often living in some sort of care facility).

First up, is part of an article sharing the findings of a study on the effect of oral hygiene for tube fed adults.  The article was published in  ENT Today: 

Improved Oral Hygiene in Tube-Fed Patients Reduces Pneumonia, Fever, Antibiotics

Synopsis: The incidence of pneumonia, the number of days with recorded fever, and the need for antibiotic administration were significantly reduced in the subgroup of patients receiving the oral care protocol. The oral care protocol included daily tooth and tongue brushing using a sponge brush with 0.2% chlorhexidine solution. It also included moisturizing the mouth with glycerol and salivary gland massage.

Bottom line: The volume of bacteria in the oral cavity expands exponentially in patients unable to clean their mouths and consume an oral diet. Routine oral care reduces the potential for aspiration of a highly virulent quantity of oral material.


Another  study  was conducted by the Section of Preventive and Public Health Dentistry, Division of Oral Health, Growth and Development, Kyushu University Faculty of Dental Science, Fukuoka, Japan.

You can read the entire article here:


Or, you can read the synopsis below:

“Our results clearly demonstrated that the oral indigenous microbiota is disrupted by the use of enteral feeding, allowing health-threatening bacteria to thrive. It is suggested that oral food intake plays an important role not only in nutrition but also in maintenance of a healthy oral indigenous microbiota that acts to prevent exogenous infection.”

So, I don’t think I need to go on.  We need to take care of our mouths.  That’s our gums, our teeth, dentures if we have them, and all the little nooks and crannies where bacteria can flourish.

I’ve often joked that some of the perks of eating via a tube are that my lipstick stays on a really, really long time, and my teeth stay nice a white.

But, joking aside, dental hygiene is something that cannot be neglected. Its not just cosmetic, its our health.

Have a great weekend!



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