Dental Practitioner Knowledge, Perception and Understanding of E-Cigarettes in Waco, TX
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Increased usage of e-cigarettes by youth and adults constitutes an immediate cause for concern among dental practitioners who have the ability to impact clinical care and affect patient’s decision making. While research is currently shifting focus to quantify the long term effects of e-cigarettes, the present knowledge and perceptions of e-cigarettes among dental practitioners is vastly under-researched. The goal of this study was to obtain a better understanding of dentist’s perception and knowledge of e-cigarettes and assess whether those factors influenced patient care. Dental practitioners (n=30) in Waco, Texas completed a 15-item Qualtrics survey to convey their knowledge, perception and subsequent clinical behavior among patients who use and those who do not use e-cigarettes. A Fishers test and factor analysis were performed. Additionally, this study compared data to that of a similar study performed in Baltimore, Maryland. There is a significant relationship between one’s dental specialty and whether the dentist includes questions about patients’ e-cigarette usage on medical history forms. Factor analysis indicated that dentists who feel ill-informed about the risks of e-cigarettes do not discuss the risks of adverse effects on oral health caused by e-cigarettes with patients actively using e-cigarettes, and also tended to believe that e-cigarettes were safer than conventional cigarettes. Additionally, the percentage of dentists in Waco, TX who explicitly ask patients about the use of e-cigarettes or conventional cigarettes is comparable to that found in the Baltimore, MD study. According to this study of Waco, TX dentists, definitive knowledge of e-cigarette risks on oral health is lacking and this influences patient interaction. This research identifies the importance of educating dental practitioners on the evidence of e-cigarette’s effect on oral health, so that they can inform patients of potential health risks and positively impact clinical care.