Dental Tribune International

Norwegian dental healthcare professionals could play greater role in snus prevention, study says

OSLO, Norway: Researchers have recently investigated attitudes and activities among dental healthcare professionals working in the public dental service (PDS) in south-eastern Norway related to snus prevention. The findings show that the majority of these professionals are inadequately informed about the minimum intervention methods required in order to produce positive outcomes in prevention and cessation of both smoking and snus use.

Snus is a type of smokeless tobacco peculiar to Nordic countries. Although its sale is illegal across the EU, with the exception of Sweden, non-EU countries such as Norway consider it an effective product to reduce the harm caused by tobacco smoking. According to the new study, snus consumption has increased in Norway over the last ten to 20 years, especially among young adults. In 2017, 32 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women aged 16–24 used snus on a daily or occasional basis. Smoking, however, has decreased in the same age group, with 3 per cent smoking daily and 14 per cent only occasionally. Although various studies have suggested that snus has lower risks of causing oral or lung cancer than smoking, its use still involves a range of adverse health effects that are not always perceived by users.

In Norway, children and adolescents up to the age of 18 are entitled to free dental care, whereas patients up to age 20 are offered treatment at a reduced price through the PDS. Therefore, the researchers believe that the PDS could be an ideal arena for tobacco prevention and cessation initiatives among children and youth. The aim of the present study was to analyse public dental health professionals’ attitudes and activities regarding interventions towards young patients’ snus use in south-eastern Norway.

In the study, researchers conducted a web-based survey of 557 dentists and dental hygienists in the PDS in seven counties in Norway. Dentists’ and dental hygienists’ activities regarding intervention to prevent snus use were analysed using the chi-squared test and measured on a five-point scale based on four questions.

The results demonstrated that approximately 87 per cent of the dentists and 58 per cent of the dental hygienists were not familiar with the minimum intervention methods commonly used in tobacco prevention and cessation. However, dental hygienists were found to be the most active in informing and supporting their patients in prevention and cessation of snus use. The findings suggest that the untapped potential of the PDS for promoting tobacco prevention and cessation among adolescents is particularly high among dentists.

The study, titled “Prevention of snus use: Attitudes and activities in the Public Dental Service in the south-eastern part of Norway”, was published online on 13 March 2019 in Clinical and Experimental Dental Research ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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