Due to Covid-19 restrictions, our mobility shop is closed for onsite purchasing, however you can still place orders through our website portal or via click and collect. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2021.

What Are The Safe Oral Care Product Alternatives To Banned Pink Foam Mouth Swabs?

Video thumbnailWatch our first ever video introduction to the latest blog from Jo Bonser

covered mouth

Innovation in safe oral care products for the elderly, vulnerable and for end-of-life care has been painfully slow until very recently, causing a challenge to care homes and hospitals who are trying to deliver safe oral care but without access to fit for purpose products available.

Oral Hygiene Management Guide

MD Jo Bonser told us:

‘Customers have been approaching us asking what are the safe alternatives to the pink oral swabs?

We know that since 2012 Foam Mouth Care Swabs have been on a Medical Device Alert (MDA/2012/020) and their use banned in Wales and many NHS trusts throughout the UK following a fatality when the sponge head became detached and dislodge in a patient’s mouth.

There have also been over 800 patient safety incidents issued by the MHRA relating to choking and aspiration risks from the pink oral swabs.

tooth paste and brush

I wanted to source an alternative solution for our customers so I searched for a safe, fit for purpose product and I kept searching, as, at the time, there weren’t any new innovations on the market.

Because of our passion for patient safety and only providing fit for purpose solutions, we made the decision to discontinue the more traditional oral care products that were past their sell by date - these being the pink foam mouth swabs because of the choking risk and the lemon & glycerine mouth swabs, as glycerine is known to have a drying effect on the mouth which is counterproductive.

So, initially all we were able to recommend was

Gauze Swabs And Toothpaste

An alternative to mouth sponge swabs is non-fraying gauze
Gauze squares are ideal for removing debris, plaque and dry mucus from the lips and oral cavity.

Damp the gauze in water and wrap it around an index finger to remove plaque and food debris from the inside of the mouth. A pea-sized amount of non-foaming toothpaste may be applied to the gauze when removing plaque from the teeth. The importance of plaque removal from the mouth and teeth is to lower the bacteria levels in the oral cavity It is important to also remember the sense of wellbeing a clean mouth has as it is sometimes forgotten.

Click on each image to find these products on our website

reliswab cotton gauze swabs bp

oralieve ultra mild toothpaste

However, I am quite a tenacious person if I can’t solve something initially, I never forget, like an elephant!


Then around 18 months later we finally sourced the “swizzle stick”, now better known as

MouthEze Oral Cleanser

An innovative, ergonomically designed Class 1 medical device, for use in delivering safe mouth care, without the choke or aspirating hazard of pink sponge swabs or the awkwardness of toothbrushes.

Moutheze can be used by clinicians and carers to:

  • Lubricate the lips, tongue and soft tissues inside the mouth with water, water-based gels and mouth rinses.
  • Remove sticky tenacious secretions, crusty plugs on the palate and stringy saliva following cancer therapy treatment.
  • Or remove any retained food and debris from the mouth.
  • Aid oral desensitisation for patients with special requirement and learning disabilities.
  • Clean coated tongues.

Moutheze oral cleanser

What Healthcare Professionals Said About Moutheze

"Very useful for removing dry secretions on the tongue"

‘’Great product and a much needed addition to oral care. Fully meets criteria for intended use. For dysphagic patients this would be an excellent therapy tool’’

‘’Very well tolerated by patient. Moistened mouth well, movement of oral musculature and clarity of speech improved after use’’

tooth paste and nature

What Patients Said About Moutheze

‘’Really stimulates the mouth, I had more saliva. You think it was hard or hurt, looking at it, but when it is in the mouth it feels really good’’

‘’Gel held on MouthEze, allowed good access to all areas of the oral cavity’’

love heart oral care

Again, we led the way at the forefront of the industry by becoming the first specialist care home supplier to stock this new innovative product and help our customers solve their oral care challenge and also be at the forefront of emerging innovations in safe oral care and helping them achieve compliancy with CQC.

As we learned more about oral care and the tools our customers needed, we added further safe alternatives:

tepe toothbrush

Tepe Toothbrush

A small soft-headed toothbrush can also be recommended and in nil by mouth cases an aspirating toothbrush can be used if a care home has these facilities (please ask for more details)

toothette swabs

Toothette Disposal Swabs

These are untreated single use ultra-soft swab with distinct ridges which help lift debris and secretions and clean between teeth while stimulating fragile oral tissue.

Although they are still a foam swab, the manufacturers state that’ the sponge will not come off as they are on a plastic stick rather than compressed cardboard as the old pink sponges were’

The Toothette has been subject to a Quality Improvement Project in a London teaching hospital aimed to assess their safety and suitability versus traditional pink foam mouth swabs

The survey was based on a 4-week trial and 28 staff surveys collected with the following conclusion:

‘After implementing assessing a new oral swab, the care staff concluded that these new evidence based swabs were able to provide enhanced oral cleaning in a safe and secure manner to patients and that they were better and safer for practice compared to previously used pink foam swabs.’

NB Sponge swabs should not be soaked as that can loosen the glue and pose a risk of choking if the head become detached

Oralieve Dry Mouth Gel

Feedback has been received that it still causes a challenge when foam swabs were being used to moisten the mouth, as some of the alternatives do not hold liquid so well.

Our dry mouth gel can provide immediate relief of dry mouth and provides hours of relief and comfort in one application.

It can be easily applied with a clean finger to gums, tongue and palate, or by using the patented MouthEze soft headed applicator. Oralieve Mouth Gel is a Class1 Medical Device.

oralieve dry mouth relief

Latest Product Available

360 toothbrush

New 360° Adult Toothbrush

The soft bristles make this product a suitable replacement to the mouth sponges. They can be used to remove biofilm from the teeth and soft tissues of the oral cavity such as the tongue, palate and cheeks. It can also be used to hydrate the mouth with water or hydrating gel. It is a fast growing popular alternative to the sponge swabs.


Click on the image to download the Oral Hygiene management Guide

Oral Hygiene Management Guide Long CTA

We hope you've found this information insightful. Why not leave a comment or suggestion below!

Leave a Reply