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Letters: Tobacco education

March 17, 2014

I would like to applaud the ADA News for placing the surgeon general's findings on tobacco and oral health as your cover story ("Surgeon General Updates Tobacco, Oral Health Links," Feb. 3 ADA News). As dental professionals usually see their patients more often than their medical colleagues, they have a great opportunity to help their tobacco-using patients to break their nicotine addiction. As you discussed, there is ample evidence to suggest that there is a relationship between cigarette smoking and dental caries, an increase in implant failure and an increase in periodontal disease. Clearly, there also is a causal relationship with cigarette use and oral cancer, multiple other cancers, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Given all of this, and the emphasis on the importance of integrating medical and dental disciplines in dental school education, I challenge the ADA to insist that every dental school provide adequate courses on tobacco's impact on patients' oral and overall health, tobacco cessation and motivational interviewing techniques so that they can comfortably work with their tobacco-addicted patients to quit.

As over 440,000 people still are dying every year from tobacco use, and over 40,000 people will develop oral or pharyngeal cancer, we need to be much more proactive in our roles as health care providers to make a significant impact on reducing these numbers.

Nevin Zablotsky, D.M.D.
South Hero, Vt.

Editor's note: Dr. Zablotsky is a senior consultant on tobacco curriculum for Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine and is author of the ADA CE Online course Tobacco Addiction: What You Can Do For Your Patients. The course is $41 for members and $62 for nonmembers. For more information or to purchase the course, visit adaceonline.org.