By May Kwan MS, RD, LD
Lisa Harper Mallonee, BSDH, MPH, RD is unique in that she is both a registered dietitian and registered dental hygienist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene and a Master in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to being a registered dietitian she worked in a dental office as a registered dental hygienist. She had always had an interest in nutrition and wellness and found that during her tenure as a full-time hygienist that nutrition played a MAJOR role in the field of dentistry but was limited to the scope of nutritional services that she could legally provide. She contacted AND on colleges that provided a master’s program in dietetics and decided on UNC’s Public Health coordinated masters program in dietetics because she felt it would be a nice complement to her background in dental hygiene.
The two positions are related because as a dental hygienist there are a number of systemic conditions that have oral manifestations. There are also nutrient deficiencies that can be identified in the mouth that would otherwise go unnoticed. In addition it is common to have patients with eating disorders which can be identified by the damage done to their oral cavities. So, there are numerous ways that the two positions are interrelated. However, a lot of these conditions must be referred to a physician and/or a registered dietitian for appropriate diagnosis and counseling—thus there are only limited amounts of dietary information that can actually be provided by a registered dental hygienist.
She assumed her current position as a full-time faculty member at Baylor College of Dentistry where she has combined her roles as a dental hygienist and dietitian for 7 years since graduating from graduate school. Lisa also provides a lecture on oral health to the Baylor dietetic interns and the UT Southwestern dietetic interns. She also supervises a dental clinic rotation for dietetic interns. She is a both a published author and national speaker on various topics relating to oral health and nutrition.