Remembering is what we are all asked to do in November with both Guy Fawkes Night and Remembrance Sunday.
But did you know that November is also Oral Mouth Cancer action month when the British Dental Health Foundation ask us to remember why it is so important to see a Dentist regularly?
Regular exams with your Dentist are all about routine maintenance and prevention. And that’s not just teeth. One of the things they look out for are any signs for concern in your soft tissue. That means your lips, your gums, your tongue, your palate, the back of your throat, your cheeks and even your neck. Your mouth can provide clues about the rest of your health and your Dentist is trained to interpret these when they examine you.
Last year in the UK more than 6,700 people were diagnosed with mouth cancer and it’s one of the very few cancers predicted to increase further over the next few years. Although awareness of prostrate and cervical cancer has been increasing, oral cancer is responsible for taking more lives than those two cancers put together during the year. Men over 40 are largely affected but it is becoming more common in women and younger people.
Remember that early detection could save your life. Be ‘mouthaware’. If you’ve had a mouth ulcer for over 2-3 weeks and it’s not going away, or you’ve noticed any unusual red or white patches, lumps or swellings then make sure you ask your Dentist or Doctor to take a look.
There are things that you can do that will reduce your risk of developing Mouth Cancer in the first place which are detailed on the Mouth Cancer Action Month website www.mouthcancer.org. Research has shown that smoking, alcohol, diet and the Human papillomavirus (HPV) are all contributing factors so making lifestyle changes such as eating more fruit and vegetables, and even drinking coffee, can make a difference. Our Oral Health Educator can help with ideas for how you and your family could lower your risk.
Things that you should consider doing are eating a diet rich in vitamins A, C and E, using good sunscreen on your lips, reducing smoking and drinking alcohol, particularly at the same time, and understanding how your lifestyle choices could affect your risk of contracting HPV.
You can also get involved with the campaign to raise awareness of mouth cancer and get people talking about this issue – you could help save someone’s life. Take a selfie of yourself or a group of your family, friends or colleagues and upload it to the blue lip selfie gallery at www.bluelipselfie.co.uk. You can also use blue lipstick and share those photos on Twitter or Instagram using the #BlueLipSelfie tag.
Get into the habit of seeing your Dentist regularly – don’t wait until you think there might be a problem. We would encourage people to start from a young age.
Remember – if you are at all concerned about something out of the norm which doesn’t seem to be clearing up don’t leave it – ‘If in doubt get checked out’.
We are offering a limited number of free 5 minute check-ups during November. Our dentists know first-hand that they could make a difference if you take that step.
Mike Pawley and the Broad Street Dental Surgery team