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Policies and Recommendations on Diet and Nutrition

In General

Resolved, that oral health depends on proper nutrition and healthy eating habits, and necessarily includes avoiding a steady diet of foods containing natural and added sugars, processed starches and low pH-level acids, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA acknowledges it is beneficial for consumers to avoid a steady diet of foods containing natural and added sugars, processed starches and low pH-level acids as way to help maintain optimal oral health, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA supports the findings and recommendations in the Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations Supplemental Report 3 to the 2012 House of Delegates: Formulation a Strategic Approach for Addressing the Complex Emerging Issues Related to Oral Health and Nutrition in the United States (Suppl.2012:4114) (PDF), and be it further

Dentist's Role in Nutrition and Oral Health

Resolved, that the ADA encourages dentists to routinely counsel their patients about the oral health benefits of maintaining a well-balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA encourages dentists to stay abreast of the latest science-based nutrition recommendations and nutrition-related screening, counseling and referral techniques, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA encourages dentists to serve on local school wellness planning boards to establish and maintain local school wellness policies that:

  • Appropriately balance the nutritional benefits of consuming certain foodstuffs and the risk of tooth decay.
  • Promote lifelong mouth healthy behaviors, such brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, limiting consumption of sugary snacks and beverages and seeing the dentist regularly.
  • Reflect the inextricable link between oral health and overall health and well-being.

and be it further

Access and Prevention

Resolved, that the ADA supports its members by providing access to current information and educational materials, and cultivating learning opportunities (e.g., continuing education modules, etc.), for dentists to learn more about the relationship between diet, nutrition and oral health—including latest science-based nutrition recommendations and nutrition-related screening and counseling techniques, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA encourages collaborations with dieticians and other nutrition experts to raise interprofessional awareness about the relationship between diet, nutrition and oral health, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA supports projects, as appropriate and feasible, to educate the public about the oral health benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and to encourage consumers to adopt healthier diets and establish better eating habits, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA supports public information campaigns to reduce the amount of added sugars consumed in American diets, and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA encourages constituent and component dental societies to work with state and local officials to ensure locally-administered nutrition and food assistance programs have an oral health component (e.g., WIC, SNAP, NSLP, etc.), and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA encourages constituent and component dental societies to work with state and local school officials to prohibit schools from entering into contractual arrangements, including school pouring rights contracts, that incentivize schools to sell and aggressively advertise foods and beverages with high added sugar content on school grounds (e.g., providing free samples, posting signage, branding school equipment, sponsoring events, etc.), and be it further

Resolved, that the ADA supports the World Health Organization’s 2015 Guideline on Sugar Intake for Adults and Children, and be it further

Government Affairs

Resolved, that the ADA should give priority to the following when advancing public policies on diet, nutrition and oral health:

  1. Ensuring government-supported nutrition education and food assistance programs (e.g., WIC, SNAP, NSLP, etc.) have an oral health component, such as and general guidelines that promote good oral health.
  2. Encouraging federal research agencies to develop the body of high-quality scientific literature examining, among other things, the extent to which dental caries rates fluctuate with changes in total added sugar consumption and over what period(s).
  3. Maintaining the separate line-item declaration of added sugars content on Nutrition Facts labels and listing the declared added sugars content in relatable terms (e.g., teaspoons, grams, etc.).
  4. Supporting legislative and regulatory actions, as appropriate and feasible, to increase consumer awareness about the role dietary sugar consumption may play in maintaining optimal oral health and the potential benefits of limiting added sugar consumption in relation to general and oral health.
  5. Requiring third-party payers to cover nutrition counseling in dental offices as an essential plan benefit.

ADA House of Delegates
Adopted: October 2016

Prepared by: Division of Government and Public Affairs
Last Updated: February 24, 2017