Every November the Oral Health Foundation runs Mouth Cancer Action Month and this year marked their 20th anniversary of speaking out about mouth cancer. Although the Covid-19 pandemic restricted what we could physically do across our practice locations, we still engaged with other dental health professionals on social media to help spread the word about the prevalence of oral cancers. We also joined the call on #BlueWednesday encouraging people to self-check for mouth cancer in order to spot any changes.
With 8,722 people in the UK alone diagnosed with mouth cancer last year and the disease claiming more lives than car accidents, an early diagnosis is vital for successful treatment.
On the front page of our informative Patient Information Zone on our website we have an easy-to-follow video that talks you through the process of self-checking for mouth cancer – click here to view it. Self-checking doesn’t take long and can save lives. Everyone’s mouth is different so it’s important to self-check regularly and get to know what your mouth looks like normally, and to contact your GP or dentist if you spot something out of the ordinary.
As a dental social enterprise, oral health is at the heart of everything we do, on a daily basis in our clinical locations and through our community initiatives. While our annual Smiles At Sea tour was necessarily different this Autumn due to the pandemic, we nevertheless took an experienced oral health nurse to 6 harbourside locations around Devon and Cornwall to chat to fishermen about the importance of looking after their oral health. Every fisherman we spoke to received free oral health care products and 15 were signposted to our Urgent Dental Care Hubs for emergency care.
In some locations we were joined by other healthcare providers who spoke to the fishermen about general health. This more holistic approach to preventative health care was echoed in our social media engagement during Mouth Cancer Action Month as we linked important oral health messages with other healthcare initiatives taking place during that month, such as Alcohol Awareness Week, Self Care Week and International Men’s Day (with men being more likely to develop mouth cancer than women are, usually related to an increased alcohol intake).
You can reduce your chances of developing oral cancers by making certain lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption and eating a healthier diet. To learn more about the risk factors for mouth cancer, take a look at the Oral Health Foundation’s “Mouth Cancer Risk Factors” poster here.