The Dental Hygiene Class of 2013 at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC completed a record 288 free oral cancer screenings — up from 159 last year — and encouraged smokers to kick the habit as part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.
Set up around campus — with tables in front of the Norris Dental Science Center and across from Tommy Trojan — the dental hygiene students handed out literature about the importance of abstaining from smoking and explained how lighting up can significantly impact oral health care.
They also allowed passersby to surrender packs of cigarettes in exchange for free nicotine patches.
Many participating students, faculty and staff were more than appreciative of the free services, admitting that it had been a long time since they had considered going to the dentist or even thought about their oral health care.
The Ostrow School’s dental hygiene students have participated in the Great American Smokeout for seven years now, reaching hundreds of smokers across campus.
And their efforts do seem to make an impact.
George Rosado, administrative services coordinator at the school, had been trying to quit smoking for some time but would invariably fall off the wagon after a week or two — until he went to a Smokeout table for an oral cancer screening nearly three years ago.
“I went to one of the Smokeout screenings and received a complete oral cancer screening and a bag of literature on tips to quit smoking,” said Rosado, who had been a pack-a-day smoker. “In the bag was a rubber band, and I was instructed by one of the students to wear that rubber band on my wrist and snap it every time I craved a cigarette.”
Aside from a sore wrist, Rosado said when he was a smoker, he’d think about smoking a cigarette almost to the point of obsession. Ultimately, his efforts were successful. He hasn’t picked up a cigarette since.
“I don’t miss it,” he said. “I look back and wonder why I ever smoked to start with. Thanks to the Smokeout, I finally kicked the habit.”
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