Dental Professionals: Help Your Patients Quit

Dental professionals play a critical role in helping their patients quit tobacco products. The Tips® Campaign provides resources to help dental health care professionals talk to their patients.

Healthcare providers in a variety of settings play a critical role in helping people quit using tobacco. Even brief advice from you can make it much more likely that your patients will try to quit—and ultimately succeed. Dental professionals are well-positioned to serve as sources of cessation support for their patients who smoke, as the mouth is often the first place to notice adverse health effects from tobacco products.

More than 16 million US adults are living with a disease caused by cigarette smoking. These diseases include serious health conditions affecting the mouth and oral cavity, including oropharyngeal cancer, gum disease and recession, tooth decay, bone loss, failure of dental implants, canker sores, and stained teeth.

Dental Professionals: Start the Conversation Using Tips® Resources

Dental professionals can play a key role in fighting tobacco use in their patients. Beginning in 2018, CDC’s Division of Oral Health partnered with the Office on Smoking and Health, the American Dental Association, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association to include the dental community in their Tips® campaign.

When it comes to talking to patients about quitting, the Tips campaign can be a conversation starter. The campaign offers resources, including handouts, posters, and videos, for dentists as well as patients. Visit Healthcare Providers: Tools and Resources for more information.

Gum (Periodontal) Disease Can Lead to Total Tooth Loss

Tobacco use in any form–cigarettes, pipes, and smokeless tobacco–raises your risk for periodontal disease. In 2011–2016, 43% of adults over 65 who currently smoke cigarettes had lost all their teeth, compared to just 12% of those who never smoked cigarettes.

Visit CDC’s Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss and the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Tobacco Use and Cessationexternal icon pages for more information about the oral health impacts of tobacco use.

Untreated Tooth Decay: Over Twice the Risk

Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, infections, and problems eating, speaking, and learning. Among adults aged 20–64 years, over 40% who currently smoke cigarettes had untreated tooth decay. Among adults aged 65 and over, 34% who were currently smoking cigarettes had untreated tooth decay. This is more than twice the number who have never smoked.

Tobacco Products Can Lead to Head, Neck, and Oral Cancers

Tobacco use and alcohol are the two most important risk factors for cancer. Smoking is associated with oral cancer; cancer of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, and bladder; as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Use of smokeless tobacco is associated with increased risks of oral cancer and oral mucosal lesions (e.g., oral leukoplakia).

Visit CDC’s Smoking and Cancer page, the National Cancer Institute’s page on Head and Neck Cancerexternal icon, and ADA’s Tobacco Use and Cessationexternal icon page for more information.

CDC’s Tips® Campaign: Helping Over One Million People Quit For Good

Since its launch in 2012, the CDC’s Tips® campaign has featured compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities and the toll these conditions have taken on them. From 2012–2018, CDC estimates that more than 16.4 million people who smoke have attempted to quit and approximately one million have quit for good because of the campaign.  The personal stories that Tips® participants share can help motivate your smoking patients to start quit attempts, with your help.