November 23, 2022
Providing solutions to health issues affecting youth and underserved communities is a shared goal for both CATCH Global Foundation and DentaQuest. Through our strong partnership over the past two years, we have equipped more educators with the vaping prevention and oral health resources needed to help children and teens create positive healthy behaviors.
DentaQuest, a purpose-driven oral healthcare company, has spearheaded advancements in prevention-focused dentistry with the goal of improving the oral health of all. In 2020, during their pursuit to expand access to care, vaping became a real issue that DentaQuest wanted to address through a partnership with CATCH My Breath. Developed by researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health, CATCH My Breath is the only peer-reviewed, evidence-based youth nicotine vaping prevention program in the United States.
According to the FDA, in 2020, high school students in the United States showed a 1,000 percent increase in use of disposable e-cigarettes rising from 2.4% to 26.5% and use among middle school students increased 400%, rising from 3.0% to 15.2%.
With this staggering increase, we know there is an unfortunate direct correlation to a child’s physical and mental health. Nicotine increases anxiety and depression, and affects memory, concentration, self-control, and attention span. Long-term health risks for children can also present themselves as a myriad of different conditions including addiction, sleep problems, and lung damage. But, what about a child’s oral health as the harmful chemicals of e-cigarettes do enter the body through the mouth afterall? The opportunity to add an Oral Health component to the CATCH My Breath Youth Vaping Prevention program was clear.
“Vaping involves the mouth in a significant way and, at the time, nobody else was highlighting this and providing the necessary health education,” says Dr. Damien Cuffie, Louisiana Dental Director at DentaQuest.
“It’s very important that providers ask specifically if a patient vapes when asking if a person chews or smokes tobacco. While the number of people who smoke cigarettes has decreased, the younger generation has a higher incidence of vaping,” he continues. “Many patients feel that smoking and vaping are very different, but both are detrimental to a person’s oral health.”
Providing schools and educators with easy access to the CATCH My Breath (CMB) program has always been a priority for CATCH. Thanks to generous funding from DentaQuest, CATCH was able to both create engaging lessons to educate students in grades 5-12, about the oral health impacts of vaping and provide those lessons to schools for free.
The CMB Oral Health Addendum video lessons inform students about the effects that e-cigarettes and vaping can have on their oral health now as well as offer tips on how to keep a healthy smile for life. The lessons were easily utilized in distance learning and as schools returned to in-person learning.
Since 2021, the lessons have been accessed more than 1,400 times by individuals across 46 states.
“The fact that these lessons are integrated into school programs means that children who may have never had the opportunity to have dental care would be exposed to it,” says Cuffie.
The CMB Oral Health Addendum resources are also available to DentaQuest’s outreach teams. They often use these resources in meetings with parents and in sessions with students at high schools. DentaQuest has also offered internal lunch and learn sessions to their staff, inviting Marcella Bianco, Director of Community Relations for CATCH Global Foundation, to speak and educate DentaQuest employees, many of whom are parents themselves, about the oral health dangers of vaping.
At CATCH, we know that the more alliances we form, the more responsive we can be to the youth vaping epidemic by providing the education needed for kids to make healthy choices about vaping. The ripple effect of our strong partnership with DentaQuest and exploring this important topic has turned into more community partnerships for DentaQuest as well. Together, we can help more youth say “No” to vaping.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can implement the freely available CATCH My Breath Program in your school or organization, please visit www.catchmybreath.org.