Lack of good evidence on whether advice from dental professionals can change dietary behaviour

23 March 2012, 15:39

Summary of study qualityThe Cochrane Oral Health Group carried out this systematic review of randomised controlled trials assessing the effectiveness of one-to-one dietary interventions delivered in a dental care setting.

What do they mean by "dietary interventions"?

The reviewers used "dietary interventions" to denote a range of approaches from the giving of dietary advice through to undertaking dietary behaviour change interventions.

What outcomes did they look at?

Behavioural change was measured by the frequency, amount or timing of food or drink consumption, and included changes specific to sugary foods.  The outcome measures were mostly self-reports.

What did they find?

Five studies were found that addressed the question.  They varied in approach and methodological quality.

Although four out of the five studies found a significant change in dietary behaviour in at least one primary outcome, the reviewers concluded:

"There is tentative evidence that one-to-one dietary interventions delivered in a dental setting aimed at promoting general rather than oral health, are effective at changing dietary behaviour.

There is little evidence that one-to-one dietary interventions delivered in a dental setting aimed at preventing dental caries are effective, but mainly because very few studies have been undertaken in this area, and where studies have been undertaken, most have significant methodological weaknesses."

Users of this research should note that the review excluded studies that examined dietary interventions intended to improve oral hygiene.

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