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Food for Thought: The Relationship Between Oral Health and Nutrition

Course Number: 583

Nutritional Counseling in the Dental Practice

Advice is like cooking - you should try it before you feed it to others. - Croft Pente

When do you counsel a dental patient? How can you initiate a conversation regarding nutrition into a regular prophylaxis appointment? It can be as formal as having a patient record a 3, 5, or 7-day food diary and return for dietary counseling. An informal approach may involve talking chair side, providing visual aids, brochures, or having a patient record a 24-hour recall. Counseling in the dental practice should focus upon reducing oral risks from diet and promoting good nutrition for health. Patients should be referred to a Registered Dietitian if there is an underlying medical condition.

Table 7 will help determine when to counsel in the dental practice and when to refer a patient to a Registered Dietitian.

Table 7. Determine When to Counsel and When to Refer.

When to CounselWhen to Refer
  • Chronic dieter
  • Denture patient
  • Early Childhood Caries
  • Oral lesions
  • Periodontal disease
  • Recurrent decay
  • Xerostomia
  • Improving heart health
  • Suspected diabetes
  • Eating disorder
  • Food allergies
  • Malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis