Evidence to support oral health promotion services targeted to smokers calling tobacco quitlines in the United States

Jennifer B. Mcclure, Karin Riggs, Jackie St John, Sheryl L Catz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Prior research demonstrated a need and opportunity to target smokers calling a free, state-funded tobacco quitline to provide behavioral counseling for oral health promotion; however, it is unclear whether these results generalize to tobacco quitline callers of higher socioeconomic status receiving services through commercially-funded quitlines. This knowledge will inform planning for a future public oral health promotion program targeted to tobacco quitline callers. Methods. We surveyed smokers (n = 455) who had recently received tobacco quitline services through their medical insurance. Participants were asked about their self-reported oral health indicators, key behavioral risk factors for oral disease, motivation for changing their oral self-care behavior, and interest in future oral health promotion services. Where applicable, results were compared against those from a representative sample of callers to a free, state-funded quitline (n = 816) in the same geographic region. Results: Callers to a commercially-funded quitline had higher socioeconomic status, were more likely to have dental insurance, and reported better overall oral health indicators and routine self-care (oral hygiene, dental visits) than callers to a state-funded quitline. Nevertheless opportunities for oral health promotion were identified. Nearly 80% of commercial quitline callers failed to meet basic daily hygiene recommendations, 32.8% had not visited the dentist in more than a year, and 63.3% reported daily alcohol consumption (which reacts synergistically with tobacco to increase oral cancer risk). Nearly half (44%) were interested in learning how to improve their oral health status and, on average, moderately high levels of motivation for oral health care were reported. Many participants also had dental insurance, eliminating an important barrier to professional dental care. Conclusions: Future public oral health promotion efforts should focus on callers to both free state-supported and commercially-funded tobacco quitlines. While differences exist between these populations, both groups report behavioral risk factors for oral disease which represent important targets for intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number336
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Oral disease
  • Oral health promotion
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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