Mouth Cancer Action Month ran throughout November, organised by the Oral Health Foundation to raise awareness about mouth cancer. We joined health professionals from dentistry and other specialisms in highlighting the risk factors for mouth cancer, as well as the importance of performing self-checks to maintain good oral health and visiting your dentist as soon as possible should you spot something that isn’t “normal for you”.
Our teams put up posters and joined in online awareness-raising initiatives such as #BlueWednesday and #BlueLipSelfie – helping to make noise about the importance of being “mouthaware” and looking after your oral health. Early diagnosis of mouth cancer massively increases the chance of successful treatment, which is why we feature the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s “Self Examination for Mouth Cancer” video on the front page of our West Country Dental Care Patient Information Zone and signpost our patients to this online resource at every opportunity.
As a dental social enterprise, health equity is a high priority for us and we see thousands of patients each year for emergency and urgent dental treatment across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who do not otherwise access treatment. We go even further into our community with our Brighter Smiles programme, bringing toothbrushing clubs, fluoride varnishing and oral health education to children at high risk of tooth decay; and through Smiles at Sea we offer free oral health checks and dental treatment at the harboursides to fishermen and their families who rarely see a dentist due to the demands of their work. This September we visited nine harbourside locations with our mobile dental unit, saw 173 patients in total (a 50% increase on our 2018 tour), screened 164 for oral cancer and referred three patients on for urgent care. Take a look at our Impact Special Edition to see what more we did!
During Mouth Cancer Action Month we were inspired by a presentation about dental care provision in Morocco given by our West Country Dental Care nurse (and this year’s Smiles at Sea lead dental nurse) Debbie Williams, who in October 2019 travelled to Chefchaouen in north west Morocco as a Dentaid volunteer. Over just five clinical days the team screened over 3000 children, delivering oral health education to 2000 of them and fluoride treatment for 734, treated a total of 1439 patients, undertook extractions for 705 of them (mainly children), and gave out over 2500 toothbrushes. In far more rudimentary surroundings than our dental clinics here in the UK (using a small pressure cooker as an autoclave to sterilise equipment)! Debbie also featured in the BBC programme about our work at https://smiletogether.co.uk/smile-together-on-the-bbc/.
We’re very proud of Debbie and on National Dental Nurses Day (22nd November) her contribution to dental healthcare was recognised by the Society of British Dental Nurses, who awarded her first place in their “Outstanding Dental Nurse” category!