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Few Dentists Offer Help for Tobacco Cessation
June 20, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Dentists are less likely than physicians to talk with smokers about quitting, says a national study.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health did the study. They used survey data from 2010 and 2011. They found that more than 9 million smokers who visited a dentist during that time did not receive any advice or information about smoking cessation.

About 31% of smokers were advised to quit by a dentist. About 65% had been advised to quit by a physician.

Physicians also were more likely than dentists to offer help beyond just the advice to quit. About 53% of physicians offered more help, compared with 25% of dentists.

Since 1992, the American Dental Association has urged dentists and dental offices to learn ways to educate patients who smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

A 2013 study found that more than three-fourths of dentists advised tobacco users to quit. But fewer dentists provided further help. The dentists in this study reported several barriers to talking with patients about tobacco cessation:

  • A belief that their patients would not want to talk about the topic
  • A lack of insurance reimbursement for the time spent discussing tobacco cessation
  • Not knowing where to refer patients who wanted help with quitting
  • Not having enough time to talk with patients about tobacco cessation

The Harvard study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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