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It's More Than Just Candy: Important Relationships Between Nutrition and Oral Health

Palmer, Carole A. EdD, RD, LDN; Burnett, Dustin J. MS, RD; Dean, Brian MS, RD

Nutrition Today:
doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e3181e98969
Continuing Education
Abstract

Oral problems can affect and be affected by both diet and systemic nutrition. Dental caries (tooth decay) remains the most prevalent disease of children: 7 times more common than hay fever and five times more common than childhood asthma. The mouth is an early indicator of general health and nutritional status; clinical signs and symptoms of nutritional and other health problems frequently appear first in the oral cavity. Conversely, oral problems can have profound effects on nutritional status. Emerging research is revealing even more important relationships between nutrition and oral health issues and chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and immune-compromising conditions. Health care professionals should help their patients by asking patients about oral health concerns and referring patients for dental consults when indicated. Promoting good oral health as well as good nutrition is essential to optimal overall health status

In Brief

Read this review to keep your smile dazzling and your dental bills low!

Author Information

Carole A. Palmer, EdD, RD, LDN, is director of the Master's Degree component of the combined Dietetic Internship/Master's Program of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center (Tufts Medical Center), and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts. She is also professor and head of the Division of Nutrition and Oral Health Promotion in the Department of Public Health and Community Service, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health of Tufts Medical School.

Dustin J. Burnett, MS, RD, is a graduate of the combined Dietetic Internship/Master's Program of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts. He is currently principal dietitian and supervisor of the Metabolic Kitchen and Human Feeding Lab at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis. His academic training includes Culinary Arts, Chemistry, Toxicology, Nutrition, and Clinical Dietetics.

Brian Dean, MS, RD, is a graduate of the combined Dietetic Internship/Master's Program of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts Medical Center, and The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. He is currently an independent nutrition consultant in New York City.

Correspondence: Carole A. Palmer, EdD, RD, LDN, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, 1 Kneeland St, Room 734, Boston, MA 02111 (carole.palmer@tufts.edu).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.