Nutrition plays key role in oral health

A strong connection exists between the food people eat and their oral health, according to an updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, May 2013, Vol. 113:5, pp. 693-701).

"It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that nutrition is an integral component of oral health," wrote the authors, Riva Touger-Decker, RD, PhD, a professor and the department chair at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Connie Mobley, PhD, the associate dean of research and a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. "The academy supports integration of oral health with nutrition services, education, and research. Collaboration between dietetics practitioners and oral healthcare professionals is recommended for oral health promotion and disease prevention and intervention."

According to the paper, dental caries "is the most prevalent, chronic, common, and transmissible infectious oral condition in humans." In addition, a person's overall health can be affected by tooth loss, since declining periodontal health can lead to diminished dietary quality because of lack of essential nutrients in a person's diet.

"As knowledge of the connection between oral and nutrition health increases, it highlights the importance of dietetics practitioners and oral healthcare professionals to provide screening, education, and referrals as part of comprehensive client/patient care," the authors wrote.

Collaborative endeavors between dietetics, dentistry, medicine, and allied health professionals in research, education, and delineation of practice roles are needed to ensure comprehensive healthcare, they concluded.

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