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Nutrition and Oral Health

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This collection of selected resources offers high-quality information about nutrition and oral health. Use the tools below for further searching, or contact us for personalized assistance.

Key Facts

  Share these facts to help improve the oral health of pregnant women, children, and adolescents and their families.

  • Oral health and nutrition have a multifaceted relationship. Oral infectious diseases impact ability to eat and nutrition status. Likewise, nutrition and diet can affect the development and integrity of the oral cavity and progression of oral diseases. 1

  • Dietary factors, primarily frequent consumption of simple sugars that feed decay-causing bacteria, initiate the caries process. 2
  • Evidence supports a relationship between the amount of sugars ingested and the development of dental caries across age groups. 3
  • Children who frequently consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) at age 10–12 months are far more likely than those who do not to have tooth decay at age 6, suggesting that infancy may be an important time to instill healthy beverage habits. 4
  • Children from households with low or very low food security have significantly higher caries prevalence than children living in fully food-secure households. 5
  • Oral health professionals can help children and their parents identify sources of added sugars and provide guidance to decrease intake of added sugars, thereby improving nutrient intake and reducing caries risk. 6
  • Common risk factors associated with both obesity and dental caries include developmental conditions, socioeconomic status, acculturation, stress, and diet. These findings support a holistic approach in which interventions and policies target common risk factors, such as SSB intake, as a way to prevent multiple disease. 7
  • National attention is needed to help develop comprehensive feeding and oral health care policies for child care centers; such policies may help reduce the epidemics of childhood obesity and dental caries. 8
  • Oral health professionals can work as part of an interprofessional team that includes registered dietitian nutritionists to improve oral health and overall health through provision of weight screening, obesity education, and intervention to children who are at risk for obesity. 9
  • There are several challenges in improving nutrition teaching in dental education, including a lack of guidelines to assist in the development of core nutrition curricula, few trained faculty members teaching nutrition, few faculty members who can model and implement nutrition models in clinical settings, and a lack of rigorous research on the efficacy of clinical interventionss. 10
  • Many children with special health care needs (CSHCN) have restricted diets, and understanding the oral health implications of restricted diets can help the dental team better manage the needs of CSHCN. 11
  • Higher maternal diet quality in the year before pregnancy is associated with lower risks for neural tube defects and orofacial clefts. 12

References

  1. Touger-Decker R, Mobley C; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Oral health and nutrition. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 113(5):693–701.
  2. Palmer CA, Gilbert JA; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The impact of fluoride on health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112(9):1443–1453.
  3. Moynihan PJ, Kelly SAM. 2014. Effect on caries of restricting sugars intake: Systematic review to inform WHO guidelines. Journal of Dental Research 93(1):8–18.
  4. Park S, Lin M, Onofrak S, Li R. 2015. Association of sugar-sweetened beverage intake during infancy with dental caries in 6-year-olds. Clinical Nutrition Research 4(1):9–17.
  5. Chi DL, Masterson EE, Carle AC, Manci LA, Coldwell SE. 2014. Socioeconomic status, food security, and dental caries in US children: Mediation analyses of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2007–2008. American Journal of Public Health 104(5):860–864.
  6. Marshall TA. 2015. Nomenclature, characteristics, and dietary intakes of sugars. Journal of the American Dental Association 146(1):61–64.
  7. Chi DL, Chu F, Luu M. In press. A scoping review of epidemiologic risk factors for pediatric obesity: Implications for future childhood obesity and dental caries prevention research. Journal of Public Health Dentistry.
  8. Kim J, Kaste LM, Fadavi S, Benjamin Neelon SE. 2012. Are state child care regulations meeting national oral health and nutritional standards? Pediatric Dentistry 34(4):317–324.
  9. Ziegler J, Hughes CV. 2016. Weighing in on pediatric obesity: Weight screening at the dental visit. Journal of the American Dental Association 147(2):146–150.
  10. DiMaria-Ghalili RA, Edwards M, Friedman G, Jaferi A, Kohlmeier M, Kris-Etherton P, Lenders C, Palmer C, Wylie-Rosett J. 2013. Capacity building in nutrition science: Revisiting the curricula for medical professionals. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1306:21–40.
  11. Moursi AM, Fernandaz JB, Daronch M, Zee L, Jones CL. 2010. Nutrition and oral health considerations in children with special health care needs: Implications for oral health care providers. Pediatric Dentistry 32(4):333–342.
  12. Carmichael SL, Yang W, Feldkamp ML, Munger RG, Siega-Riz AM, Botto LD, Shaw G; National Birth Defects Prevention Study. 2012. Reduced risks of neural tube defects and orofacial clefts with higher diet quality. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine 166(2):121–126.

OHRC Publications

This section contains OHRC-produced materials.


Details

Casamassimo P, Holt K, eds. 2016. Bright Futures: Oral health—Pocket guide (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, 90 pp

National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center
Georgetown University Box 571272
Washington, DC 20057-1272

Telephone: (202) 784-9771
E-mail: OHRCinfo@georgetown.edu
Website: https://www.mchoralhealth.org
Available from the website.

This pocket guide offers health professionals an overview of preventive oral health supervision for five periods—pregnancy and postpartum, infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. The pocket guide is designed to help health professionals implement specific oral health guidelines during these periods. For each period, information about family preparation, risk assessment, interview questions, screening, examination, preventive procedures, anticipatory guidance, measurable outcomes, and referrals are discussed. The content aligns with Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents (4th ed.). [Funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau]


Details

Holt K, Tinaoff N, Garcia RI, Battrell A, Casamassimo P, Grover J. 2017. Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention National Conference--Executive summary. Washington, DC: National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, 12 pp

National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center
Georgetown University Box 571272
Washington, DC 20057-1272

Telephone: (202) 784-9771
E-mail: OHRCinfo@georgetown.edu
Website: https://www.mchoralhealth.org

This executive summary provides an overview of the Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention National Conference and key findings. It also presents a list of proposed strategies for preventing childhood obesity in the following areas: research, dental students’ education and training, oral health professionals’ continuing education and training, advocacy/policy, consumer-based education interventions, interprofessional collaboration, and reimbursement.


Details

National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness. 2012–. Brush up on oral health. Elk Grove Village, IL: National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, monthly

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
Telephone: (866) 763-6481
E-mail: health@ecetta.info
Website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc
Available from the website.

This tip sheet series provides Head Start staff with information on current practice, practical tips for promoting oral health to share with parents, and recipes for healthy snacks that children can make with Head Start staff or at home with their parents. Topics include children with special health care needs, community water fluoridation, dental caries, dental home, fluoride varnish, health literacy, home visiting, injury, nutrition, pregnancy, school readiness, and tobacco.


Details

National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness. 2014–. Healthy habits for happy smiles. Elk Grove Village, IL: National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, 26 pp

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
Telephone: (866) 763-6481
E-mail: health@ecetta.info
Website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc
Available from the website.

This series of handouts for pregnant women and parents of infants and young children provides simple tips on oral health issues. Topics include taking care of oral health during pregnancy, managing teething pain, taking care of infants’ oral health, brushing children’s teeth, toothbrushing positions and tips for brushing the teeth of children with special health care needs, choosing healthy drinks, giving healthy snacks, getting fluoride, preventing oral injuries, giving first aid for oral injuries, and finding and visiting a dental clinic. The series is available in English and Spanish.


Details

National Center on Health. 2014. Cook's corner: Recipes for healthy snacks. [Elk Grove Village, IL]: National Center on Health, 17 pp

Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
Telephone: (866) 763-6481
E-mail: health@ecetta.info
Website: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc
Available from the website.

This cookbook includes recipes for healthy snacks that Head Start staff and children can make in a Head Start classroom or at home with their families. The cookbook is divided into recipes for dairy, fruit, vegetables, and more. Each recipe includes a list of ingredients, directions, a picture of the prepared recipe, and, where needed, safety tips.

     


OHRC Library

This section contains recent materials, not including OHRC-produced materials.


Details

Center for Health Care Strategies. 2016. Advancing oral health through the Women, Infants, and Children Program: A New Hampshire project. Hamilton, NJ: Center for Health Care Strategies, 6 pp

Center for Health Care Strategies
200 American Metro Boulevard, Suite 119
Hamilton, NJ 08619

Telephone: (609) 528-8400
Fax: (609) 586-3679
E-mail:
Website: http://www.chcs.org
Available from the website.

This brief describes a pilot project to integrate preventive oral health care for women with low incomes and children from families with low incomes through local sites of the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in New Hampshire. The brief also explores alternative channels for reaching low-income populations with oral health care and education. Topics include administrative procedures, technology, capacity, funding, lessons learned, and next steps.


Details

First 5 Contra Costa Children and Families Commission, Healthy+Active Before 5. 2015–. Sugar Bites. Concord, CA: First 5 Contra Costa Children and Families Commission, multiple items

First 5 Contra Costa Children and Families Commission
1485 Civic Court, Suite 1200
Concord, CA 94520

Telephone: (925) 771-7300
Website: http://www.first5coco.org
Available from the website.

These resources are part of a public-awareness campaign aimed at preventing the development of chronic diseases by encouraging parents to choose water for their young child instead of drinks that are high in sugar. The resources focus on reducing children’s risk for obesity, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes by reducing their consumption of flavored milk, juice drinks, soda, and sports drinks. Contents include brochures, posters, videos, and web graphics. The resources are available in English and Spanish.


Details

Hecht A, Buck S, Patel A. 2016. Water first: A toolkit for promoting water intake in community settings. Battle Creek, MI: W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2 items

This guide is designed to help communities prevent obesity and dental caries by promoting drinking water as an alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and sports drinks. Contents include strategies for building a team and defining and spreading the message in child care facilities, clinics, parks, schools, and other community-based settings. A two-page fact sheet is also available.


Details

National Policy and Legal Analysis Network. 2014. Model legislation requiring a safety warning for sugar-sweetened beverages. Oakland, CA: ChangeLab Solutions, 33 pp, plus appendix (14 pp)

ChangeLab Solutions
2201 Broadway, Suite 502
Oakland, CA 94612

Telephone: (510) 302-3380
Website: http://changelabsolutions.org
Available from the website.

This document provides model legislation for states implementing a policy requiring a safety warning on sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) containers and packaging. Contents include model legislation to assist states seeking to increase consumer awareness about the health risks of consuming SSBs and to help them to make informed choices. An accompanying set of evidence-based facts that support the legislation is also available.


Details

Tinanoff, N. 2017. Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 77(S1):S5-S140.

This special supplement includes nine articles prepared for the Healthy Futures: Engaging the Oral Health Community in Childhood Obesity Prevention National Conference. The articles discuss the state of the science related to preventing childhood obesity and reducing children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and strategies that oral health professionals and organizations can employ to prevent childhood obesity. The articles examine (1) the state of the science related to preventing childhood obesity, (2) the state of the science related to reducing children’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or sugar-containing beverages, and (3) strategies that could be employed by oral health professionals and organizations and others to prevent childhood obesity. An introduction and a conference summary and recommendation are included.

     

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