Dentists play key role in helping patients quit tobacco

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Research published in the June 2021 issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 32% of respondents used more tobacco, 37% used less tobacco, and 31% used the same amount of tobacco as prior to the pandemic.

Researchers surmise those who smoked more may have done so due to stress and boredom, while those who smoked less may have done so because they feared contracting COVID-19. For the first time in two decades, cigarette sales increased, according to a report from the Federal Trade Commission.  

Dentists play a key role in helping patients quit tobacco. A new report, Smoking Cessation Counseling and Treatment: An American Dental Association Clinical Evaluators Panel Survey, in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) includes survey findings among dentists, which include:

  • Of the dentists who indicated they offer smoking cessation counselling or treatment, 90% said they were involved in those conversations with patients, either alone or with a dental team member
  • A total of 69% said they would be willing to prescribe pharmacologic agents to help with cessation.
  • Out of all the respondents, 40% were aware smoking cessation counselling and treatment is part of most medical benefits and 82% said they perform surgeries on patients who smoke, vape or use smokeless tobacco products, including extractions, periodontal surgeries and biopsies

On average, smokers attempt to quit eight to 11 times before achieving success. Because dentists often see their patients more often than physicians, dentists are well positioned to provide tobacco cessation counselling to patients.