PURPOSE: This study was done to examine the effects of oral care with essential oil in improving the oral health status of hospice patients with terminal cancer. METHODS: The participants were 43 patients with terminal cancer admitted to K hospital in G city, Korea. Twenty-two patients were assigned to the experimental group and 21 to the control group. Participants in the experimental group received special mouth care with essential oil (application of essential oil mixture consisting of geranium, lavender, tea tree, and peppermint). The control group received special mouth care with 0.9% saline. The special mouth care was performed twice daily for one week in both groups. The scores for subjective oral comfortness, objective oral state, and numbers of colonizing Candida albicans were measured before and after the treatment. RESULTS: The score for subjective oral comfortness and objective oral state were significantly higher in the experimental group compared to the control group. The numbers of colonizing Candida albicans significantly decreased in the experimental group compared to the control group. CONCLUSION: Oral care with essential oil could be an effective oral health nursing intervention for hospice patients with terminal cancer.