Effective dietary counselling in a dental setting can significantly reduce the risk of oral disease. However, studies suggest that dental professionals are not instigating dietary advice on a regular basis, and there is a lack of current information of the barriers experienced that limit the delivery of dietary advice. The aim of this study was to investigate the current attitudes and practice behaviours of dental hygienists and oral health therapists in NSW, Australia, regarding dietary advice, and identify the barriers that limit its delivery.
A convenience sample of dental hygienists and oral health therapists were surveyed using a mail-out questionnaire. The questionnaire investigated the demographic data of participants, the attitudes and practice behaviours of participants, the perceived barriers and current dietary resources accessed by participants.
Of 987 dental hygienists and oral health therapists, 426 participants responded. The study results suggest that many dental hygienists and oral health therapists have positive beliefs regarding the importance of dietary counselling. However, there are a multitude of barriers preventing the delivery of dietary advice; these include time, patient compliance, patient knowledge of nutrition topics, personal counselling skills and practitioners’ knowledge of nutrition.
Whilst dental hygienists and oral health therapists recognize the importance of diet and have positive attitudes towards providing dietary advice to patients, this study identified many barriers preventing implementation in practice. This information may be used to develop targeted strategies aimed at overcoming these barriers and improving behaviours.