Dental patients don't mind if their dentists give them a nudge to stop using tobacco products, according to the findings of survey conducted at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
Robert Lewis, a second-year dental student at Case, asked 594 patients to answer 22 questions about their tobacco use and also thoughts about having their doctor or dentist intervene to help them stop their use of tobacco products. The respondents were visiting Case's dental clinic where students from the dental school receive their clinical training.
Lewis will present findings from the study, "Dental Patients Who Use Tobacco: Attitudes Toward Tobacco Cessation Promotion" for the International Association of Dental Research and the American Association for Dental Research's annual meeting in Baltimore, Md. He is the lead investigator on the study with Kristin Victoroff, D.D.S, Case assistant professor of community dentistry. The research was supported by an American Cancer Society Joseph Silber Student Fellowship, awarded to Lewis for summer research.
Seventy-one percent or 422 people responded.
Of those approximately 29% or 122 patients currently use tobacco, which was reflective of the numbers of people (approximately 25%) nationwide that smoke or chew tobacco. The majority (71%) was considering quitting or was currently trying to quit.
Overwhelming the tobacco users felt their student dentist should ask them about their tobacco usage (72%), tell them how tobacco can affect oral health (periodontal disease or oral cancers) (88%), advise them to quit (67%) and provide information on tobacco cessation when wanted (89%).
While the patients liked having information from their dentist or doctor about tobacco cessation programs, almost half (49%) had not discussed the issue with their medical provider on their most recent visit.
What surprised the investigators was that nearly half (45%) of the respondent were not aware of community resources available to help them quit.
According to the investigators, the study was conducted to see whether or not patients coming to the student clinic wanted information or their student dentist's help in breaking their smoking or chewing habits. The information also provided an opportunity for Victoroff to incorporate the findings in the dental classes she teaches and to strengthen the need for dentists to overcome any hesitations they have about introducing tobacco cessation information and advice during dental visits.
Victoroff added that public health guidelines encourage doctors and dentists to inquire about tobacco use and to urge patients to give up and break their tobacco use by providing them with information on how to access programs that can offer interventions.