Parent Receptiveness of Nutrition Advice from Dental Professionals

Jenna Panek

Kylie Schlesinger

Panek, Jenna, Schlesinger, Kylie
Faculty / Advisor: Hajishengallis, Evlambia
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences, Division of Pediatric Dentistry


Pediatricians play a major role in educating parents of their child's health. However, children often see their pediatric dentist more frequently, every 6 months instead of annually. Although perhaps unknown to the general public, dentists are required to complete an extensive education and understanding of the entire body. This in combination with the frequency of children seeing their dental provider gives dentists the opportunity to enhance this role of educating parents on general health related topics, not limited to the oral cavity. Parents may feel uncomfortable or find it inappropriate to be receiving systemic health advice from their child's dentist. The aim of this study is to assess parent's willingness to receive nutrition and overall health advice from their child's dentist.


Participants of this study included 34 parents of children below the age of 18. Parents sitting in the waiting room in the Pediatric department at Penn Dental Medicine were selected at random and asked if they were interested in participating in a research study. Those interested were then presented with a QR code that took them to a link with the electronic questionnaire. The questionnaire contained questions related to their comfort level of receiving information from their child’s dentist on a variety of health topics as well demographic information.


While results are still being analyzed by a statistician affiliated with the University, the general trend reveals parents of children being treated at PDM are willing to receive overall nutrition advice from their dental provider. However, some questions appeared to be less accepted by parents such as relating to exercise or being informed that their child is at an unhealthy weight. Statistically significant trends are currently being analyzed and will be determined within one week from today.


In conclusion, the obesity epidemic is on the rise in the U.S. and needs to be emphasized to the population at a young age in order instill long lasting values. Dental professionals are typically well-trained and educated in topics related to generalized health and could play a significant role in supplementing health education for parents and children. Based on the results of this study, parents are generally comfortable receiving overall health advice and information from their dental providers. Therefore, pediatric dentists should incorporate increased health education in their practices in effort to attenuate the astronomical increase in childhood obesity.