Most people view their routine checkup as an annual 30-minute appointment, but research is consistently suggesting that dental checkups are extremely important for good general health.
A routine dental checkup promotes good oral health by allowing dentists to keep an eye on existing or developing conditions and enabling them to identify early warning signs of gum disease or tooth decay. It can also help dentists to diagnose more serious health conditions, including oral cancer.
Oral cancer is becoming increasingly common and causes more deaths than both cervical and testicular cancer. In the United Kingdom it is estimated that one person dies from oral cancer every five hours. Oral cancer, if identified early, has a good prognosis. If it is not caught early, however, it can spread and survival chances become much lower.
Regular check-ups every 6 months allow dentists to identify early warning signs of oral cancer and treatment can be administered as early as possible. Early diagnosis can help to improve survival rates by up to 90 percent.
This month dental practices across the UK are raising awareness of oral cancer by celebrating Mouth Cancer Action Month, a campaign run by the British Dental Health Foundation. The campaign has been launched to teach people about the signs and symptoms of oral cancer and encourage people to schedule regular dental checkups.
Some dental offices are offering free screening for patients to help raise awareness. Dentists will use an advanced screening instrument to check for signs of oral cancer. All patients will also be given an information pack.
Dentists are urging people to keep an eye out for possible symptoms of oral cancer, including white or red patches in the mouth, abnormal swellings in the mouth or throat and sores that do not heal quickly.