Diet & Oral Health: An Online Course

In this information-packed online course, cariology expert Dr. Gary Hildebrandt explains: 1) how the focus of dental caries management has changed over time, 2) the association between caries and systemic disease, and 3) the cariogenicity of different types of foods and beverages.

Multiple patient cases will be used to illustrate the impact of dietary habits on the dentition. You will also learn about the efficacy of various types of sugar-free products, food choice alternatives, and will receive suggestions to improve your patients' adherence to recommended changes in dietary habits.


Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • describe the dietary factors that pose the most risk of caries.
  • recognize ways to increase patient compliance with dietary recommendations.
  • list potentially cariogenic foods which are not normally considered to be cariogenic.
  • identify the potential positive and negative effects of the sugar substitute xylitol.
  • describe strategies to manage the oral health of patients with profound dry mouth.

Original release date: February, 2014. Date last reviewed: October, 2016. Expiration date: October, 2019.

Who Should Enroll

Dental team members seeking to align their caries management strategies with today’s dietary habits and to understand the impact of these habits on patients’ oral and overall health.

Educational Methods

Self-guided instruction through review of three-module webcast, each followed by a short quiz and concluding with a final overall quiz.


Gary Hildebrandt, DDS, MS, Associate Clinical Specialist and Director, Division of Operative Dentistry, Department of Restorative Sciences, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Dr. Hildebrandt is an elected member of the Academy of Operative Dentistry. His research interests include: the relationship between diet and caries; the relationship between dental disease and systemic diseases; caries risk assessment and control protocols; the effect of xylitol on dental caries; the efficacy of chlorhexidine in suppressing or eliminating mutans streptococci; sustained release varnishes in drug and fluoride delivery, and cultural comparison tests on dental caries.

Technical requirements

Operating system & network

  • Windows: Windows XP or higher and a high-speed Internet connection.
  • Macintosh: Mac OS X or higher and a high-speed Internet connection.


Moodle is an online learning environment that houses nearly all University of Minnesota online courses. Moodle is configured to work in all browsers, however we recommend using either Firefox, Safari (Mac users), or Google Chrome. 

Avoid Internet Explorer, as many activities in Moodle do not work correctly while using Internet Explorer.

The learning modules in this course require that you have the latest version of Java on your computer. Download the latest version at the Java website.


Course materials are delivered primarily via videos (.mp4 format) and PDF documents. FREE plugins are available for both Macs and PCs and these are linked within the course.


It is also necessary to have either speakers or a headset in order to hear the video recordings. Most laptops have built-in speakers for this purpose.


Windows Minimum Requirements
A Pentium processor-based PC or compatible computer
At least 64 MB of RAM
Windows 98 or later 
Macintosh Minimum Requirements
Power PC or higher 
At least 64 MB of RAM
Mac OS X

Computer skills needed

Basic computer skills including the ability to input a web address (url) and navigate throughout the various sections of the course.

Cancellation policy

Please note: Once you have registered for an online course, there is no refund. Please review the details of the course first, before making the non-refundable registration payment.

To begin learning

You will need to: 1) set up an email account—if you don’t already have a University of Minnesota email account, and 2) enter into the course in the Moodle environment and begin learning. Access more detailed instructions on how to begin the course.




2 hours

Minnesota Credits
2 core (Diagnosis & Treatment Planning)

Course Number