January 26, 2011

Dental seminar to focus on tobacco intervention

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dental health professionals can often play a key role not only in assessing a patient’s dental needs, but also their health.

A seminar next month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will provide dental health students and professionals with more insight into helping patients to stop smoking.

Joan M. Davis, an associate professor in the Dental Hygiene Program, registered dental hygienist and certified tobacco treatment specialist, will present “Discussing and Prescribing Tobacco Cessation Medication.” The continuing education seminar is from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Feb. 9, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library.

“The importance of a tobacco intervention in the dental office is that we see people early, regularly, and when they are healthy,” Davis said. “Doctors, often times, see patients who use tobacco with symptoms of tobacco disease.

“But we see them early and every six months, so we have a really unique opportunity to intervene in a secondary prevention manner to help them quit before they get all of the manifestation from smoking,” she said.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the seminar. For more information, contact Joan M. Davis, associate professor in SIUC’s Dental Hygiene Program, at 618/453-8874 or by email at davisdh@siu.edu.

Even with today’s “smoke-free” emphasis, the number of deaths from smoking-related disease is still staggering. More than 440,000 people die annually from smoke-related illnesses, and 18 percent to 19 percent of people in the United States smoke. Approximately half of those who continue to smoke will die from a smoke-related illness, Davis said.

About 70 percent of oral cancer relates to smoked tobacco, and smokeless tobacco use is also a factor due to the carcinogens, Davis said. Smoke from 4,000 toxic chemicals and 30 to 40 carcinogens in tobacco damage every single cell in a person’s body, she said.

The U.S. Public Health Service “strongly encourages all health care providers to intervene with a tobacco cessation message with their patients at every visit,” Davis said. Research is very clear that most, if not all, health care providers will ask whether a patient smokes when compiling a health history. But research also shows dental care providers are not always comfortable prescribing medication, she said.

Recent tobacco cessation guidelines show that medication can assist people who are trying to quit smoking by taking away cravings and the desire to smoke, Davis said.

Dental hygiene students learn different aspects of tobacco cessation intervention within their curriculum each semester, Davis said. The seminar will supplement what students learn with a focus on how to approach discussing cessation options based upon a patient’s smoking addiction level. For dentists, the seminar will focus on resources and information they can reference in prescribing tobacco cessation medication.

Davis, who has more than 35 years in the dental health field, developed the “Tobacco Free! Curriculum,” through a grant from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Institute of Oral Health -- at no charge to more than 300 dental hygiene faculty and programs in the United States and internationally. Davis said she hopes to start a tobacco cessation clinic on the SIUC campus in the future.

Seminar registration costs range from $5 to $45 depending upon student or professional status, and continuing education credit is available in some instances. Registration is acceptable the night of the seminar, but requests are for advance registration for pizza consideration. Contact Faith Miller, associate professor in dental hygiene, at 618/453-8880 or by email at fymbags@siu.edu, for more information.