Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Dental hygienists and dietary counseling : extent and quality Public Deposited

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  • Nutrition and diet are significantly interrelated with oral health and disease. The control of diet and nutrient intake and good oral hygiene are important elements in the prevention and treatment of dental caries and periodontal disease. Prevention of dental disease is the major focus of dentistry today, and dietary counseling is considered to be a component of a comprehensive preventive dentistry service. Dental hygienists are primarily responsible for the delivery of preventive dental health care, and thus may assume the role of dietary counselor in the dental practice. The role of the dental hygienist in dietary counseling was examined in this study. The purposes of the study were: (1) to identify the extent and quality of dietary counseling provided by the dental hygienist in dental practices, (2) to analyze factors that may influence the extent of dietary counseling by the dental hygienist, (i.e. practice constraints, attitude toward the role of nutrition in dental health, personal dietary practices), (3) to assess nutrition knowledge and confidence in dietary counseling skills of the dental hygienist, and (4) to determine the need to improve nutrition education in the dental hygiene curriculum. A sample of 300 Oregon licensed dental hygienists was surveyed by mail in summer, 1989, to examine the extent (degree to which diet is assessed and dietary advice is given) and quality (degree to which assessment and dietary advice are research based) of dietary counseling in the dental practice. Of the 212 respondents (72% adjusted response rate), 52% reported providing dietary counseling. Fifty-four percent reported providing counseling to fewer than 10% of their patients. Ninety-six percent respondents reported that they did not obtain dietary intake records; 82% did not evaluate their patients' diets for nutritional adequacy. Most respondents (92%) did not refer patients to a nutrition professional. Attitude of the respondents was favorable toward the role of nutrition in dental health while confidence in their nutrition knowledge and dietary counseling skills was low. Scores for both variables nutrition knowledge and its application in dietary evaluation were low, suggesting that the quality of dietary counseling may be inadequate. Hypotheses testing found that nutrition knowledge significantly (p = ≤ .05) affected the quality of dietary counseling. Hypotheses testing also found significant positive relationships (p = ≤ .05) between extent of dietary counseling and the dental hygienists' (1) attitude toward the relationship of nutrition and dental health, (2) confidence in nutrition knowledge and dietary counseling skills, and (3) personal dietary practices. A significant (p = ≤ .05) negative relationship was found between extent of dietary counseling and the dental hygienists' perception of practice constraints. Several practice constraints influenced the extent of dietary counseling, most notably lack of time (86%) and cost effectiveness (62%). The results of this research indicate that the extent and quality of dietary counseling by dental hygienists are limited. Extent is affected by various practice constraints and the dental hygienists' lack of confidence in nutrition knowledge and dietary counseling skills. Implications suggest that the dental hygiene curriculum is not adequately preparing dental hygienists in nutrition and dietary counseling.
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