A new study, released by the Ohio State University College of Public Health, healthcare professionals aren’t doing enough to stop people from smoking, and dentists, perhaps because they don’t feel they have the training, time, or consider smoking as part of their concern.

Dentists Missed Opportunities to Help

No Smoking, by Brittany Perry on WikicommonsThe study said that, considering the magnitude of the health effects of smoking, doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals were missing opportunities to improve public health because they weren’t talking to patients about the need to quit smoking.

The study said that less than 51% of smokers who saw a doctor had been counseled to quit smoking. The fraction who had been counseled to quit by a dentist was much smaller, less than 12%.

Not Enough Time, Training, or Confidence

In trying to explain the lack of counseling by dentists, people pointed to factors such as a lack of time, training, or confidence that may prevent them from bringing up the subject. According to Stanton Glantz of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco), “Dental schools and other professional schools are not doing enough to teach how to deal with the issue. It’s just a continuous slog to try to get time in the curriculum.”

Dr. Benjamin Chaffee, also at the UCSF, added “The majority of dentists will tell you they think it’s an important part of their role, but a lower percentage will tell you they feel confident they know what to say and how to say it.”

Why and How to Quit

There’s no doubt that smoking has a serious impact on the health and appearance of your teeth. It can stain your teeth, increase your risk of gum disease and make it more likely that dental implants will fail. Staining typically responds to teeth whitening, but gum disease treatment and dental implant outcomes are less certain. Quitting is the best thing you can do to preserve a beautiful and healthy smile.

And smoking can worsen snoring and sleep apnea, too.

If you are trying to quit, it’s best to take a multifaceted approach. People who try to quit without professional assistance have only a 4 to 7% chance of success. Smoking cessation drugs can bump up your success rate to 25%, and with counseling your success rate is even higher.

And, of course, if you need a dentist to help reverse some of the effects of smoking on your teeth and your smile, we can help. Please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment with Philadelphia dentist Dr. Ken Siegel at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.