WVU School of Dentistry to Offer Tobacco Treatment Training

Dentistry Today


The West Virginia University (WVU) School of Dentistry is now one of 18 education and health institutions to be accredited by the Council for Tobacco Treatment Training Programs (CTTTP) to implement a certified, multifaceted program to stop tobacco use and reduce incidences of oral cancer.  

Susan Morgan, DDS, clinical assistant professor in periodontics at the WVU School of Dentistry, approached CTTTP with the goal of training dental professionals and other healthcare providers by initiating a program to reduce tobacco use in West Virginia, where 4,240 deaths between 2009 and 2013 could be attributed to diseases and complications developed from smoking, reports the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

“The number one risk factor for periodontal disease is smoking, and tobacco is the number one link to oral cancer,” said Morgan, who has been working since 2000 to prepare dentists who can help patients end their dependency on nicotine.

According to the United Health Foundation’s 2016 America’s Health Rankings, 25.7% of adults in West Virginia smoke, ranking the state 49th in the country in numbers of residents who abstain. The report ranked the high prevalence of smoking as one of the state’s top 3 challenges.

Working in cooperation with the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center Office of Interprofessional Education, representatives from the WVU School of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, School of Nursing, School of Dentistry, WVU Cancer Institute, and others will be involved in the university’s tobacco treatment training program.

“It’s going to reach out to all healthcare providers who deal with a population of tobacco users,” said Morgan. “The program teaches participants evidence-based means of treatment that are known to work.”

Morgan also said that healthcare providers can be uncomfortable recommending simultaneous use of multiple treatments for tobacco and nicotine dependency. But in 2013, the Food and Drug Administration published information indicating that combination pharmacotherapy is extremely important and effective in helping tobacco users quit.

Through the tobacco treatment program, set to begin in 2018, participants will learn the science of addiction and its side effects along with best practices for treatment. The trained healthcare professionals will become certified information providers on the risks and consequences of tobacco use.

The interprofessional initiative is designed to help those healthcare providers develop individual treatment plans, with evidence-based solutions to quit, using a combination of medicine and behavior therapy for nicotine addicted patients.

“If this is going to work, we’ve all got to work together,” said Morgan. “I’ve got to be able to call a pharmacist and say I want this patient on a combination of cessation medications.”

Following this announcement of accreditation, the 26-member team developed by the School of Dentistry and Office of Interprofessional Education can move forward with providing certified tobacco treatment specialist training.

Related Articles

Barriers Remain in Smoking Cessation Treatment

The UK Encourages Dentists to Discuss Smoking’s Dangers

FDA Launches New Strategy for Fighting Nicotine Addiction