Oral Health and Nutrition: A Bidirectional Relationship

I can talk about oral hygiene until I’m blue in the face in my efforts to help prevent oral diseases such as dental cavities and gum disease. However, I know that there is more involved when it concerns maintaining good oral health.

One important element is diet and nutritional intake. I serve a very culturally diverse population, and at times, it’s difficult to provide someone with nutritional counseling because of my limited knowledge of their traditional diet.

Of course, it’s easy to just say, you need to eat a healthy diet and limit the amount of sugar and carb-rich foods you eat. When said like this, I usually get a response of “I don’t eat much candy” or “I don’t understand what you mean by carbs.” I can explain foods that have a high amount of added sugar and give examples of foods such as bread, pasta, and desserts. I can explain how these sugars and carbs may affect their oral health but providing a specific individual nutritional plan that would be beneficial in improving a person’s oral health outcomes is a bit above my expertise.

Because I know my limits, I’ll suggest or refer to a Registered Dietitian. Interprofessional collaboration with a Registered Dietitian will better serve a patient because they are skilled at providing specific plans that are unique for our differing bodies, goals, backgrounds, and tastes!

Oral health and nutrition have a bidirectional relationship. Nutrition and diet affect the health of the mouth, and the health of the mouth affects nutrients consumed due to an inability to eat because of a compromised oral cavity. As we round out National Nutrition Month, I urge you to consult with a Registered Dietitian!

A registered dietitian nutritionist, or RDN, can help you develop a safe and realistic eating plan! Plus, they can guide and motivate you with creative strategies for meal planning, grocery shopping, and mindful eating.

Learn more during #NationalNutritionMonth: https://sm.eatright.org/10RD

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