Center Dentist, Dental Hygienist, Dental Assistant
Processed sugar is pervasive in society; it is constantly marketed to us. From candy bars to sugary gum to a litany of sweetened beverages, we are inundated with cues to consume processed sugar excessively and frequently. Eating too much sugar may lead to obesity and its concomitant chronic diseases as well as our nemeses—tooth decay.
In addition, lack of nutrients can affect gingival health. Because chair-side counseling is our specialty and the mouth easily reveals the manifestations of poor nutrition and harmful diets, the Center Dentists and Dental Hygienists, with the aid of the Dental Assistants, have a unique opportunity to contribute to center-wide healthy eating initiatives. Some recommendations to help students develop healthy habits related to nutrition are:
- Help students identify their risks to caries from their diets and eating patterns. Incorporate a Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) protocol with a menu of options. Incorporate motivational interviewing techniques to encourage honest disclosure.
- Seek out opportunities to educate groups of students about healthy eating, good nutrition and oral health. Approach the Health and Wellness Manager and the Academic Manager to inquire if there are opportunities to speak with groups of students on these topics from an oral health perspective. Develop a brief presentation.
- Be aware of students who trade addictions. Sometimes after giving up smoking or drugs, students start to overeat through excessive snacking. The manifestations may be early signs of caries lesions. Refer them to the TEAP Specialist.
- Implement soda consumption as a vital sign.
- Ask students at each visit if they consume soda.
- Ask them if they would be willing to refrain from soda for a specified amount of time.
- Ask them what they will drink instead of soda.
- Ask them to select a stop date.
- Monitor their progress at subsequent visits.
- Sign-up for the Nutrition and Oral Health Webinar when it is offered.
- Educate students on how cavities are caused and reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene at each visit.
- Acquire posters that show the relationship between healthy eating, healthful diets and oral health.
- Print out our Diet and Dental Health brochure for students.