Whether chewed or smoked, tobacco use is terribly harmful to your body in a lot of ways. And when it comes to oral health, tobacco leads to periodontal disease, mucosal lesions, and oral cancer, not to mention the awful breath, stained teeth and other issues.
Your dental practice could be at the forefront of helping South Dakotans quit tobacco. Here’s how to help patients kick their habit:
Ask Your Patients
While declining, tobacco use is still common. The SD Dept. of Health’s most recent survey found 20% of people in South Dakota smoke cigarettes and 6% use smokeless tobacco.
Ask your patients about their tobacco use at each visit and keep notes on file, even if they only use tobacco occasionally.
Offer Advice and Encouragement
To the patients that do smoke or use tobacco products, advise them to stop and assess their readiness to quit. Doing so in a personalized way helps smokers feel supported.
The CDC offers a variety of resources to help you be an advocate for tobacco cessation. Information, tips, and materials for your practice are available at “Dental Professionals: Help Your Patients Quit Smoking.”
To your patients who don’t smoke – especially at-risk teens – offer them words of encouragement.
Assist With Resources and Guidance
For your patients who smoke and are willing to quit, you and your dental staff can serve as a referral and support system.
Let your patients know the SD QuitLine offers FREE support through counseling, nicotine patches and gum, and other services to help them quit successfully.
Inquire about tobacco use at each visit with the patient and offer encouragement, especially by mentioning any improvement in oral health you observe. And don’t forget that many tobacco users try to quit multiple times before finding success. Support them each time.
Help your patients live healthier lives without tobacco! It will benefit their health and the health of those around them.