Butting out for good on World Oral Health Day

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Smokefree Smiles
Clinician Tan Nguyen discusses smoking cessation with patient (model).

With more than 15 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed every week, World Oral Health Day on 20 March is the perfect time for oral health professionals to have meaningful conversations with patients about kicking the smoking habit. 

Clinicians at Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) and Victorian community dental agencies have embraced the Smokefree Smiles initiative, which is based on a three-step framework of ‘ask, advise and help’. 

The simple yet effective model provides structure for meaningful conversations about smoking cessation.

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The conversational format of Smokefree Smiles empowers clinicians to look for opportunities to talk with their patients about quitting and guide them towards evidence-based solutions to give them the best chance of success.  

“The person-centred approach allows oral health professionals to focus on prevention and minimal intervention which supports clients to self-manage their own oral health,” DHSV chief executive officer Sue McKee said.

DHSV oral health educator Aisha Mansfield added these conversations allow clinicians to help clients make important changes in their lives.  

“Despite the significant oral health benefits associated with quitting smoking, smoking cessation advice isn’t yet a routine part of dental care,” Mansfield said. 

“The Smokefree Smiles initiative aims to change that.”  

DHSV has partnered with Quit, the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to develop online training and provide support for oral health professionals. 

The training has helped DHSV’s oral health professionals gain the skills and confidence to broach the sensitive subject with clients.    

For DHSV’s oral health professionals, it has been incredibly rewarding to see the results of these conversations and the changes in patient behavior. 

“Many of our clients have smoked for years and tell us they’ve never had a clinician ask them about it before, so seeing the impact Smokefree Smiles can have on our patients is incredible,” Mansfield said.

The initiative includes a chairside guide, posters and Quitline referral information for clients as well as the online training course. 

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