The Academy supports integration of oral health with nutrition services, education and research. Collaboration between dietetics practitioners and oral health care professionals is recommended for oral health promotion and disease prevention and intervention.
According to the Academy's position paper, dental caries - also known as tooth decay - "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.
The Academy's position paper emphasizes that oral health problems can be prevented by:
Eating a healthy balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy products and whole grains that provide essential nutrients for optimum oral health and overall health.
Practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day; drinking fluoridated water; and seeking regular oral health care.
"As knowledge of the connection between oral and nutrition health increases, it highlights the importance of dietetics practitioners and oral health care professionals to provide screening, education and referrals as part of comprehensive client/patient care," according to the authors of the Academy's position paper.
"Collaborative endeavors between dietetics, dentistry, medicine and allied health professionals in research, education and delineation of practice roles are needed to ensure comprehensive health care," they noted.
The Academy's position paper was published in the May issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and can be found on the Academy's website.