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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2009 Sep;28(5):517-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2009.00108.x.

Tobacco education in dentistry and dental hygiene.

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University of Arizona, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA.



Dentists and dental hygienists are in a unique position to motivate and assist their patients to quit smoking and using smokeless tobacco, and there is ample evidence that they can be effective. Tobacco plays a major role in the development and treatment of many oral diseases, and the repeated nature of dental treatment provides multiple opportunities for information, advice and brief counselling. However, dentists and dental hygienists in practice report lack of training in effective tobacco cessation skills as a significant barrier to incorporating these behaviours into routine care.


In this paper, we summarise the rationale for addressing tobacco use within dentistry and dental hygiene, review the extant policies regarding provision of tobacco-related education, and make recommendations for the content and format of tobacco dependence treatment training in undergraduate curricula and continuing education courses.


Although worldwide dental education organisations have policies encouraging their members to provide tobacco cessation services to their patients, there are no national standards for tobacco cessation curriculum in US dental schools. In addition, tobacco cessation is not considered a clinical competency.


For dental professionals to systematically assist their patients to quit tobacco, changes must be made to the ways treatment of tobacco dependence is viewed within dentistry and taught at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Until that time, the dental profession will continue to fall short of the Clinical Practice Guidelines and the policies set out by its professional organisations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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