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Food for Thought: The Relationship Between Oral Health and Nutrition

Course Number: 583

Counseling Tips

When diet changes are indicated, keep it simple. Make small changes, and let the patient choose one or two goals to practice between dental appointments. As a clinician, be aware of a patient’s cultural influence, education, current health status, and any financial restrictions that may inhibit food selection.

  • To reduce carcinogenicity of the diet, for adults suggest limiting eating events to three times a day with no more than two between meal snacks and eliminating highly retentive foods such as crackers, chips, and soft candies.

  • For children who need the energy provided by between meal snacks, they should be healthy food choices low in cariogenic potential such as cheese, raw vegetables, meat roll-ups, and fresh fruit.

  • When oral hygiene does not follow a meal, suggest ending a meal with cheese or milk, chewing gum with xylitol, or rinsing with water to raise salivary pH back to neutral (7.0.)

  • To stimulate salivary production, include cool, sour, or tart nutrient dense foods (sugar free), increase water intake.

  • Incorporate low-fat, calcium rich foods in the diet, spaced throughout the day for remineralization properties.

  • Avoid diet soda, which contains acids that may demineralize the tooth surface independent of biofilm acid production.

  • Resources for patient education: