The good news is fewer and fewer
Albertans are using tobacco. The bad
news is that those who do use tobacco
face considerable oral health risks.
All tobacco products are harmful
to oral health. This is why your
registered dental hygienist will ask
you about tobacco use on your next
“We have a quick, three-step process
Tobacco’s risk to
your oral health
Your dental hygienist can help you
understand the risks of tobacco to
your oral health.
For example, if you smoke, you:
•;Have an increased chance of oral
cancer: 75 per cent of oral cancers
are related to smoking.
•;Are four to seven times more likely
to have periodontal disease.
If you smoke or use smokeless
•;Can develop mouth sores.
•;Are more likely to have mouth
irregularities (leukoplakia) that can
•;Face a higher risk of gum disease,
tooth loss and dental implant failure.
•;Will heal more slowly after gum
treatment or tooth removal.
•;Can have stained teeth and bad
U of A offers one of best learning programs
Arguably one of the best programs
of its kind in North America, the
University of Alberta’s Dental
Hygiene Program admits just 42 high-
calibre students a year, says program
director Dr. Sharon Compton.
The program is part of the School
of Dentistry and offers both a three-
year diploma in dental hygiene and a
four-year bachelor’s of science degree
in dental hygiene specialization; two-
thirds of students choose the degree
to help our patients better understand
what tobacco means to their health,”
says Laureen Best, a registered
dental hygienist with a certificate in
addictions studies. During the two- to
five-minute process, your registered
dental hygienist will:
• Ask you about your tobacco use.
• Link your tobacco use to your oral
and overall health.
“The program gives students a great
depth of dental hygiene education
and allows graduates to make fully
informed evidence-based decisions in
practice,” says Compton.
Students study a broad spectrum of
subjects, such as physiology, anatomy,
community health, and learn to make
evidence-based decisions. They
also receive hands-on experience by
working with patients of all ages,
needs and backgrounds.
“I’m proud that students are able
to understand and provide evidence
that helps the patient make the best
choices for their oral health,” says Dr.
The practice of dental hygiene
in Alberta has some of the highest
standards in Canada. The University
of Alberta’s Dental Hygiene Program
plays a vital role in “raising the bar”
and working with the CRDHA to
ensure these standards are consistently
met, says Dr. Compton.
Tobacco: Can we talk?
• Refer you to resources and medical
professionals that can help you kick
tobacco, if you’re ready to quit.
“Quitting is possible,” Best says. “In
2010, more than 13,000 Albertans
gave up tobacco.”
For more information, contact
AlbertaQuits at albertaquits.ca or
Registered dental hygienist Laureen Best