One of the biggest battles faced by so many dental patients (and by some dental practitioners as well) is the daily fight against nicotine addiction. Knowing the impact that nicotine addiction can have on oral health, as well as overall health, how can dentists and dental team members better serve their patients who are battling this addiction?
That is one of the questions I asked Sherri Warshaw, RDH, during a recent episode of the "Dental Assistant Nation" podcast series. During our interview, we covered a wide range of topics on the subject of nicotine addiction, something that Warshaw has discussed with dental professionals and patients for decades.
During our fast-moving conversation, I asked Warshaw about the balance of talking to patients and educating them about their nicotine usage versus “preaching to them” about why quitting can and should be done. Her advice? Ask for permission to have the conversation.
“When a patient is getting numb or the dentist is running behind and the assistant may have to do a song and dance to explain that, there are greater things that he or she can be discussing with them,” Warshaw said.
“In dentistry, we’re so uniquely up and close and personal with them. As a hygienist, any time a patient sat in my chair who was a smoker, a dipper, a cigar smoker, or a pipe smoker, I could tell immediately. That patient didn’t have to tell me.”
You can hear my entire conversation with Warshaw, which is embedded below. With the end of the year not far away and your patients likely thinking about how they could improve themselves and their health in 2024, now is a great time to listen to this episode and learn what you can to help makes these goals realities.