02 Nov Mouth Cancer Action Month
It is this time of the year again that dental practices around the UK will be promoting the awareness of oral cancer.
The Oral Health Foundation, an independent charity, has made November its Mouth Cancer Action Month during which their main aim is to reduce the lives lost and affected by mouth cancer, by raising the awareness of this terrible disease.
As every other cancer the most important thing is prevention. But what causes oral cancer? Unfortunately, the main cause is time. Yes, indeed. The older we get the more the chances we are going to have a form of cancer.
But there are some factors that increase the risks of having oral cancer.
Tobacco, either you smoke it, or you chew it, is one of the main risk factors for oral cancer. So simply beware of its use.
Alcohol also increases the mouth cancer risk. Enjoy it but moderately. And if you are concerned about mouthwashes that contain alcohol, there is no evidence that any of those increase the risk for mouth cancer. Luckily, there are now alcohol-free mouthwashes.
If you want to know more have a look at this excellent book: Anticancer, A new way of life by David-Servan Schreiber.
SEX…yes, yes…oral sex actually. It is still a bit of a taboo amongst dentists and patients, but it is well proven that some types of the sexually transmitted HP Virus can cause oral cancer, exactly like they can cause cervical cancer. Hopefully the UK’s HPV immunisation programme, although only available to young girls, will reduce this risk.
But what if someone happens to develop mouth cancer?
Early diagnosis is the key, exactly like any other cancer. So be aware of any growths or ulcers in your mouth that do not heal within a few days.
Did you know though, that our hygienist performs exactly the same examination every time they see you? They are trained for this and we, as dentists, keep re-enforcing and updating their skills and knowledge. So the more often you see a dental professional, either a dentist or a hygienist, the better the chances to have an early diagnosis if you are unlucky enough to have oral (or head and neck cancer).
But what happens during the six months between your check-ups and hygiene appointments? What if cancer happens the day after you visit your dentist and have your scale and polish? Could you be missing six whole months of the early diagnosis?
This is exactly why in Bridgeways Dental we strongly recommend our patients NOT to see the dentist and the hygienist at the same day. Of course, it is an inconvenience for anyone to have to go to a dental practice more often, but surely you will agree that the possible gain much outweighs this nuisance. So, if you see your dentist today make sure you will see the hygienist three months later. In this way a dental care professional is checking for cancer in your mouth every three months. If it is there we will probably catch it early.
If you have any concerns do come in and see us, much better to get it checked than leaving.