Dental hygienists are being urged to help patients quit smoking as No Smoking Day approaches.
No Smoking Day takes place on 14 March 2012 and recently merged with the British Heart Foundation – the slogan is ‘take the leap’ and smokers will be urged to do this on 29 February – leap year day and prepare to quit smoking on No Smoking Day on 14 March.
On the day more than a million smokers are expected to make a quit attempt.
‘Advising on quitting smoking should be a routine part of clinical practice for dentists and hygienists’
And the campaign – now in its 29th year – has the backing of British Dental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter.
He said: ‘Smoking presents a very real danger to the public’s oral and overall health. Dentists find themselves in a unique position to warn patients of the risks of smoking, which causes tooth staining and exacerbates gum disease – which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, strokes and premature and low birth-weight babies.
‘Tobacco is also linked to around three-quarters of all cases of mouth cancer. Placed on top of all the health concerns surrounding smoking, these risks stress the importance of campaigns such as No Smoking Day, and the Foundation wholeheartedly supports the campaign.’
‘The theme also echoes the UK’s focus on the Olympics, asking smokers to think about their physical health.
The ‘Take the Leap’ theme was developed with smokers themselves and reflects the positive messaging of the charity, we are here for smokers who want to quit and will help them take a leap towards a healthier, wealthier future.
This year there is WeQuit.co.uk – a dedicated quitters’ website, online community forum and a suite of resources and tips and advice for smokers.
How you can help
People who smoke have a higher chance of tooth loss than non-smokers
As tobacco use has many harmful effects on oral health, dentists and dental hygienists can play a leading role in advising and helping their patients to give up smoking.
No Smoking Day on Wednesday 14 March can also give the opportunity to recommend tips on how to maintain a healthy mouth.
Although most patients know that smoking is hazardous to their health they may not be aware of the many dangers caused by tobacco (whether smoked or chewed), such as gum and periodontal disease, or know it is linked to mouth cancer. Patients sometimes need information on how stopping smoking may improve their oral health.
Advising on quitting smoking should be a routine part of clinical practice for dentists and hygienists.
In addition to informing patients of the dangers of smoking, it’s important also to focus on the benefits to be gained from quitting, like saving money, having fresher smelling breath and reducing the chances of stained teeth or developing mouth cancer. Ensure there are no lectures but offer positive, encouraging advice on why and how to stop smoking.
One of the first steps dental practices can take is to make the No Smoking Day posters and leaflets visible to patients. The leaflets are for smokers who want to stop smoking and list where to go and who to contact for help and advice.
Even if you don’t have time to actively support each of your patients who wants to quit, you can provide them with a leaflet that gives them the information they need to find the best help available. Just knowing that someone is there to offer this help is often the first and most important step for many would-be ex-smokers.
The No Smoking Day campaign office offers a free campaign handbook that includes a poster and useful information to help you plan events and activities. To order a campaign handbook log onto the campaign website www.nosmokingday.org.uk.
When organising a No Smoking Day activity, make sure it fits in with the work you already do. For example hygienists, might have to ask patients about smoking while scaling and polishing.
Here are some ideas to help you make the most of No Smoking Day in your practice:
• Decorate a noticeboard with No Smoking Day posters and campaign materials. Putting posters up early in February can help smokers prepare for quitting on No Smoking Day in March.
• Make the No Smoking Day leaflets visible and available to patients – they offer smokers advice on where to go and who to contact for help on quitting.
• Give the No Smoking Day stickers out to children of parents who are trying to quit on No Smoking Day.
Download some free resources from the No Smoking Day website. These include information sheets, word puzzles and games for all ages, ideal for leaving in your waiting area.
You can order additional materials via the website. Materials include T-shirts for the staff to wear in the week of No Smoking Day and balloons to create colourful displays.
Organise a patient competition; everyone quitting for No Smoking Day can enter. The prize could be a ‘healthy mouth’ kit with toothbrushes, toothpaste and other giveaways.
Link with a local health club to offer joint initiatives for No Smoking Day, promoting healthy living generally.
As well as promoting smoking cessation your practice could also run a promotion on healthy eating linking to good oral health.
Join with a local grocers or supermarket to run a promotion such as ‘Good to eat & good for your teeth’.
Remember, whatever you’re doing, to contact your local media to let them know!
You can use the template press release found here. Then look on www.yell.com for local press contacts. For more information on how to generate media coverage for your No Smoking Day activities log onto the No Smoking Day website (www.nosmokingday.org.uk).