BACKGROUND: Dental caries are largely preventable, and epidemiological evidence for a relationship between diet and oral health is abundant. To date, however, dentists’ perceptions about the role of diet and dentists’ practice patterns regarding diet counseling have not been clarified.
OBJECTIVE: THE PURPOSES OF THIS STUDY WERE TO: (1) examine discordance between dentists’ perception of the importance of diet in caries treatment planning and their actual provision of diet counseling to patients, and (2) identify dentists’ characteristics associated with their provision of diet counseling.
DESIGN: The study used a cross-sectional study design consisting of a questionnaire survey in Japan.
PARTICIPANTS: The study queried dentists working in outpatient dental practices who were affiliated with the Dental Practice-Based Research Network Japan (JDPBRN), which aims to allow dentists to investigate research questions and share experiences and expertise (n = 282).
MEASUREMENT: Dentists were asked about their perceptions on the importance of diet and their practice patterns regarding diet counseling, as well as patient, practice, and dentist background data.
RESULTS: The majority of participants (n = 116, 63%) recognized that diet is “more important” to oral health. However, among participants who think diet is “more important” (n = 116), only 48% (n = 56) provide diet counseling to more than 20% of their patients. Multiple logistic regression analysis suggested that several variables were associated with providing diet counseling; dentist gender, practice busyness, percentage of patients interested in caries prevention, caries risk assessment, and percentage of patients who receive blood pressure screening.
CONCLUSIONS: Some discordance exists between dentists’ perception of the importance of diet in caries treatment planning and their actual practice pattern regarding diet counseling to patients. Reducing this discordance may require additional dentist education, including nutritional and systemic disease concepts; patient education to increase perception of the importance of caries prevention; or removing barriers to practices’ implementation of counseling.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01680848.