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Tobacco Cessation: It’s Smokin’ Hot Opportunity!

Tobacco addiction is one of the most critical causative factors in periodontal disease, and it’s one we often act helpless about—when we don’t have to be.

Cigarettes today deliver their dopamine reward faster, addict you more readily, and kill you more efficiently. They are laden with 4,000 chemicals (herbicides and pesticides) that are not rinsed before processing. In the mouth, they wage a war that results in periodontal disease, tooth loss, and oral/pharyngeal cancer. These effects serve as a potent reminder of the havoc they wreak throughout the rest of the body.

Tobacco CessationSmoking related periodontal disease is usually resistant to traditional therapies. Even when the bacterial invasion is controlled, the smoker’s bone loss continues. So are we really “treating” the disease if we don’t facilitate tobacco cessation? Let’s face it, we are not!

The problem is that it’s much harder to helping someone quit smoking than it is to scale teeth with sharp instruments. We may need to go back to school for that skill. What a gift (and practice builder) it will be! In truth, most smokers want to quit, and most have tried more than once. On average people attempt to quit between 8 and 11 times before they are successful. These frustrated serial quitters are ready for a great facilitator…YOU!

Nicotine is an insidiously addicting drug! Learning to help your patients quit means you need to understand the pros and cons of many different options, including associated quit rates, side effects and possible pitfalls. Sadly, none of the nicotine replacement therapies, which include patches, gum, and vapors are very effective. That makes sense, since changing the mode of drug absorption does not help much with drug addiction.

There is no fool-proof remedy for tobacco cessation but if you have a few solid tools in your tool chest (besides nicotine replacement therapies), you’ll be better equipped to help your patient choose his/her next quit method—the one that might be just the ticket to freedom and health.

To learn more, don’t miss the 2016 AAOSH Scientific Session at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, where Dr. Susan Maples will present on both diabetes detection and smoking cessation programs in the dental office.