November is Mouth Cancer Action Month
The Oral Health Foundation is passionate and committed to increasing awareness of the disease and reducing the number of lives lost to it every year. There is a wealth of important information on mouth cancer as well as many other interesting dental health topics on their website http://www.dentalhealth.org
But it’s not just down to organisations like the Oral Health Foundation or a single month in the year. Part of the responsibility of being a Dental Care Professional is raising awareness, educating our patients not just about how to care for their teeth and maintain their oral health but sharing essential information about how to prevent diseases like mouth cancer and how to determine the difference between a healthy or unhealthy mouth.
In fact we are champions in the battle against this disease that claims the lives of nearly 2,000 people in the UK every year. Many of the deaths due to mouth cancer could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough and we are best placed as educated dental professionals because we are performing oral examinations on a daily basis and every single patient who attends a routine dental appointment here receives essential screening for mouth cancer.
What does your mouth cancer screen involve?
Your dentist will –
- Observe the face and neck looking for swellings, skin abnormalities, moles and asymmetry.
- Look for any changes in the colour or texture of the border of the lips and mouth.
- Feel the lymph nodes in the neck feeling for any enlargement or abnormality.
- Look for changes in colour and texture of the inside surface of the lips and cheeks.
- Examine the tongue at rest and protruded for changes in colour, texture, symmetry and mobility.
- Inspect and feel the lateral borders and underside of the tongue.
- Depress the tongue and examine the soft and hard palates. Ask the patient to say “Ah” and inspect the tissues at the very back of the mouth.
All of this will take less than a couple of minutes!
- Attend your dental check up. Regular screening results in early detection which could save your life.
- Know what the risk factors, that predispose someone to developing mouth cancer are.
- Know about the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, so you know what to look for and when to seek help.
- If in doubt, get checked out!
In our Practice, fortunately not many of our patients are diagnosed with mouth cancer but that never means we take it any less seriously. If we see anything suspicious, we will immediately refer you for a specialist opinion.