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Guidelines Related to Alcohol, Nicotine, and/or Drug Use by Child or Adolescent Patients

  1. Dentists are urged to be knowledgeable about the oral manifestations of nicotine and drug use in adolescents.
  2. Dentists are encouraged to know their state laws related to confidentiality of health services for adolescents and to understand the circumstances that would allow, prevent or obligate the dentist to communicate information regarding substance use to a parent.
  3. Dentists are encouraged to take the opportunity to reinforce good health habits by complimenting young patients who refrain from using tobacco, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs.
  4. A dentist who becomes aware of a young patient's tobacco use is encouraged to take the opportunity to ask about it, provide tobacco cessation counseling and to offer information on treatment resources.
  5. Dentists may want to consider having age- appropriate anti-tobacco literature available in their offices for their young patients.
  6. Dentists who become aware of a young patient's alcohol or illegal drug use (either directly or through a report to a team member), are encouraged to express concern about this behavior and
    encourage the patient to discontinue the drug or alcohol use.
  7. A dentist who becomes aware that a parent is supplying illegal substances to a young patient, may be subject to mandatory reporting under child abuse regulations.

Adopted October 2005