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Oral health professionals: Your role in smoking cessation

Oral health professionals have a vital role in promoting smoking cessation. A brief intervention provided by an oral health professional can trigger a quit attempt.

Smoking tobacco affects a large percentage of the population. In addition to the numerous effects tobacco has on general health, smoking is a major contributor to the development of both oral cancer and periodontal (gum) disease. In the community, oral health professionals (OHPs), such as dentists and dental hygienists, are seen as a respected source of health information and are ideally placed to deliver smoking cessation advice to their patients.

There are a number of reasons why brief smoking cessation interventions should be implemented in the dental setting:

  • Dental practitioners are in an ideal position to identify oral health conditions that are visual signs of the impact of smoking, including effects ranging from stained teeth to periodontal disease and oral cancer.
  • Most smokers want to stop.
  • There is evidence that brief advice given by an oral health professional which incorporates personalised feedback from an oral examination increases quit rates among smokers.
  • Oral health personnel often have an established and longstanding rapport with patients and see them on a regular basis. There are many one and two-minute occasions that can be used to initiate a short conversation on tobacco-related cessation advice during an appointment.
  • Smokefree Smiles is an online training program developed specifically for oral health professionals by dentists and Quit. It’s free and you can sign up here (coming soon). The face-to-face training sessions on brief interventions for Oral Health professionals were accredited by the Australian Dental Association for professional development points. Check the Quit Education section for registration dates.

Taking action – what to do

Oral health teams can provide smoking cessation assistance within the time constraints of a busy practice by referring patients to Quitline.

Use the referral fax sheet or refer patients online to help support your patients to quit.

You can provide information to your patients about smoking, quitting and oral health.

Further information

The Smoking and your mouth fact sheet provides further information for OHPs.

Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues is a comprehensive review of the major issues in smoking and health in Australia, compiled by the Cancer Council Victoria. 

Suggested Resources

Oral health professionals: training and resources

Want to help your patients to quit, but not sure how? Learn about the training and resources specifically for oral health professionals.

Find out more

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