Nearly 60 per cent of patients still don't know that their dentist can check them for mouth cancer at their dental examination1. Denplan, the main sponsor of Mouth Cancer Action Month, continues to rally for free screenings in the dental practice to raise awareness of this killer disease.
"Mouth Cancer Action Month is a great way to help people understand the importance of seeing their dental team, both for their oral health in general, but also if they think they've got any symptoms of the disease. The lack of awareness of mouth cancer is one problem, but another is encouraging people to use their dental team to get checked," says Denplan's Deputy Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Henry Clover.
Denplan addresses this second point by supporting its 6,500 member dentists and their teams in offering free mouth cancer screenings for patients.
"We were among the first to promote this initiative to our members and the excellent news is that many other dentists have since followed," says Dr. Clover.
Today a huge number of Denplan dentists across the UK give patients free mouth cancer screenings during the campaign month of November, or hold dedicated open days and events to check patients for signs of the disease.
"As dentists and practice team members, we are in the ideal position to share information, highlight risks and spot mouth cancer signs, which can be vital when ensuring that a patient receives treatment in time," says Dr. Clover.
Knowledge of dental examination is low
More than half of the population received a dental consultation in the last two years. Yet, our survey shows that besides people not knowing that their dentist can check them for mouth cancer, they also don't know what is screened to detect signs of mouth cancer1.
Less than five per cent of people know that their tongue, cheeks, back of the throat or roof/floor of the mouth is checked by their dentist when screened for mouth cancer, and less than one per cent of people think their jaw and neck is checked. Only 10 per cent think their dentist checks them for unusual lumps, when screening them for mouth cancer.
On-going awareness raising
This year, Denplan also launched the Denplan Excel PreViser Patient Assessment - an online risk assessment tool which provides patients with an instant evidence based oral health report including the risk of future disease. Part of this report is dedicated to the risk of mouth cancer
"It's a great way to raise awareness with patients about their oral health and a good opportunity for dentists and practice team members to discuss mouth cancer signs and risks, as a regular part of dental examinations," says Dr. Clover.
"As you know, mouth cancer screenings aren't just for November, but this campaign is a great way to raise the topic with patients, so that as a profession we can help raise awareness of the disease and can together save more lives," he concludes.
Find out more
If you are a dentist or patient interested in finding out more about mouth cancer symptoms or how to organise a screening, we recommend you visit the British Dental Health Foundation's campaign website.
Here you can also register your practice if you're planning to hold free screenings during November. Patients will also be directed there during November's campaign to look up a screening near them.
Top 5 ways to drive most patients into your practice to receive a free screening:
- Put up posters in your window and/or on an A-board outside your practice
- Team up with local leisure clubs to visit their foyer for a few hours and sign people up for free screenings
- Arrange an open day, with practice fundraising activities, such as raffles or children's competitions - remember to have blue ribbons on sale!
- Send a press release about your efforts in the campaign to get more publicity and raise further awareness of the issue and your practice. If you've helped refer a patient in the past, the media will be very interested in a case study, provided the patient is happy to help
- Advertise in the local paper or radio - and make sure you register what your practice is doing during the campaign at www.mouthcancer.org
1. British Dental Health survey, September 2013, conducted by OnePoll.