Objectives: To assess the baseline and post-oral health training knowledge, attitude and behaviour of local authority-employed care givers in relation to the provision of mouth care for their client group, i.e. dependent older people living in their own home and to assess the oral health status of this latter population. Design: Interventional study in relation to the local authority-employed care givers and a descriptive study of the oral health of dependent older people. Setting: Caithness, Highlands, Scotland Participants: 131 local authority-employed care givers and 60 dependent older people. Results: In total, 63 of a possible 131 (48%) home carers attended two training sessions on oral health and completed pre- and post-training questionnaires. The findings showed little difference post-training in knowledge, attitude or behaviour of the home carers regarding oral health care. The descriptive study of 60 older people showed high levels of edentulism, xerostomia, fungal growth and poor denture hygiene. There were high levels of plaque and caries among the dentate individuals. Despite these findings, only a very small proportion of the older people indicated they wished to receive assistance with their oral care. An association was, however, found between the care category of the service user and oral care provision from the home carers with those in the "critical" category more likely to be receiving this care. Conclusions: Despite high levels of dental disease and poor denture care, many older people are not receiving help with their oral care and many reported they did not want assistance. This suggests that before attempting to develop care programmes for this population group, further work is required with both the service users and providers to raise awareness of oral health issues and to gain a deeper understanding of attitudes and the type of programmes which will meet the needs of the parties involved. Training programmes can then be developed to meet the needs of the programme.