Call to Action: Role of Oral Healthcare Provider
As oral healthcare providers you are well positioned to encourage your patients to follow a healthful eating pattern. As an increasing number of dental patients have become more aware of their oral health and wellness, it is up to you to offer support and encouragement, as you provide patient-centered, personalized oral healthcare. Your professional advice regarding nutrition is vital to help your patients prevent oral disease progression and optimize the health of their dentition and periodontium. Since a balanced approach to weight loss and maintenance is of paramount importance to help your patients reach the goals of sustaining a healthy weight and oral cavity, it is important to include nutrition guidance as part of your dental treatment plan. Keep in mind that the same foods that cause caries contribute to weight gain so by including diet conversations on caries prevention, there could be an indirect benefit on weight. In addition, if a patient isn't consuming a balance of the food groups, this could negatively impact healthy maintenance of periodontal tissues.
There are many patient-friendly, science-based nutrition information sources with credible guidance available that oral healthcare providers can recommend to patients. They include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics webpage on fad diets, and their webpage on healthy teeth, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry webpages on Parent Resources, the American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy webpage on nutrition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture webpage on limiting added sugars on ‘MyPlate’, consumer resources from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, and the CDC webpages on healthy weight, nutrition and physical activity. When working with a dental patient who has diabetes, the American Diabetes Association website has tips on nutrition and for a dental patient with cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association has webpages on healthy eating. Lastly, patients requesting additional weight loss guidance can be referred to the registered dietitian, a food and nutrition professional trained to address nutrition strategies and physical activity in order to optimize and promote sustainable weight control and improved systemic and oral health outcomes.75