Nutritional attitudes of senior dental students

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The attitudes toward nutrition and dentistry were studied in a group of senior dental students at Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia. The attitude statements were divided into three categories, nutrition and counseling, the nutrition counseling in their future dental practice, and nutrition education in dental school.

Students responded positively or negatively to 30 statements related to nutrition and dentistry. Varying point values were assigned to each answer. High scores indicated a positive attitude toward nutrition.

The results indicated that students have favorable attitudes toward nutrition. Their least favorable attitude was toward the inclusion of nutrition counseling in their future dental practice. However, they realized the importance of nutrition to good oral health and nutrition's role in the prevention and control of dental caries.

The teaching of nutrition to dental students did not improve individual eating habits or reinforce already good habits. The students were confident that they would be able to recognize nutritional problems and make the necessary referrals. However, the students did not agree that the nutrition education they received prepared them to treat the nutritional problems they might encounter.

Students who had favorable attitudes toward nutrition education also had favorable attitudes about including nutrition counseling in their dental practice.