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Popular Diet Trends - Lean in on Dental Health

Course Number: 663


Overweight and obesity are prevalent nutrition-related health conditions, affecting 74% of adults and 40% of children and adolescents in the U.S.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood and adolescent obesity increases the risk for poor health throughout the lifespan. Obese adults are at higher risk for many chronic health conditions, including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, osteoarthritis, gallstones, gallbladder disease, anxiety, depression, stroke and cancer.2 Furthermore, according to a systematic review of 28 epidemiological studies, controlled clinical trials and meta-analyses, obesity is positively associated with periodontitis. 3,4,5 A longitudinal study using data from the Public Dental Services and the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study found that children of obese mothers had a 2.3 times higher risk of developing early childhood caries.6 The CDC acknowledges that obesity is a complex problem and encourages healthcare professionals to work together to help patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight.7 Oral healthcare providers play a key role in educating patients and helping them overcome poor dietary and lifestyle habits, thereby decreasing their risk for both obesity and oral disease. It is well established that poor dentition impacts a patient’s weight and nutritional status. A recent retrospective, longitudinal study looking at over 3,500 denture wearers, published in the Journal of Prosthodontics, found that denture wearers had low nutrient profiles, particularly with regard to protein and calcium intakes.8 Masticatory dysfunction affects the patient’s ability to eat whole nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean beef. Edentulous patients tend to select soft, nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods resulting in a compromised nutrient intake. It is apparent through epidemiologic and experimental evidence that an increased consumption of soft foods high in refined carbohydrates, simple sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) leads to weight gain, obesity and poor oral health.9

The need for a balanced, sustainable and holistic approach to weight loss is of paramount importance for reaching the goal of sustaining a healthy weight and optimal oral health. However, since there is a plethora of popular diet trends that proliferate through celebrity testimonials, social media and the internet, it becomes extremely difficult to discern which diet actually fosters sustainable weight loss. While many patients believe that a popular diet trend will help them safely and quickly lose weight and promote health, dental patients should be discouraged from following a diet plan that promotes quick weight loss. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, rapid weight loss promotes loss of muscle, bone and water, increasing the chance for weight gain.10 On the other hand, healthy dietary patterns as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, promote long-term weight management, systemic health and a healthy dentition. We will evaluate popular current diet trends, including the low FODMAP, gluten-free (GF), dairy-free, plant-based and Mediterranean.