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Take Action Against Oral Cancer - Association of Dental Groups

Take Action Against Oral Cancer - Association of Dental Groups

Brought to you by the British Dental Health Foundation and supported by the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), the Mouth Cancer Action Month campaign is this month, aiming to raise further awareness and rally more support than ever before.

“As long term supporters of the British Dental Health Foundation and Mouth Cancer Action Month, we are as pleased as ever to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause,” says Chair of the ADG, David Worskett. “By working together we can tackle oral cancer and make a real difference to those who suffer, one campaign at a time.”


With the latest figures showing that 6,767 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer in the UK each year,[i] educating and alerting people on the dangers of oral cancer remains crucial for ensuring early diagnosis and treatment.

As it stands, a referral to a specialist must be completed within a two-week time frame,[ii] and there is a one-month maximum wait from the date a decision to treat is made to the first definitive treatment.[iii] For survival rates to increase, delivery of these treatment pathways by NHS England must continue to be implemented and improved upon.

As Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE explains, “if more of us are aware of the potential dangers of long-lasting mouth ulcers, red and white patches and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth, there could well be a reduction in the number of mouth cancer cases we are seeing.”

Do Your Bit

Unfortunately however, a lack of patient knowledge is evident, with statistics showing that only 40% of patients who develop oral cancer visit the dentist with concerns.[iv]. As Dr Nigel Carter OBE explains, “If the dental and wider health profession can inform and urge patients to regularly attend dental check-ups, we can increase the chances of mouth cancer being detected at an early stage.” That is why Mouth Cancer Action Month continues its efforts to inform and educate and why it urges you to incorporate regular screening for oral cancer into routine appointments.

Meanwhile, the British Dental Health Foundation will continue to provide educational materials to dental practices, hospitals, GPs and pharmacies, and remains passionate about improving the awareness of patients and professionals alike. Whether it’s through donning a blue ribbon, taking part in the Blue Lip Selfie Campaign, running an event or donating, you can give back to the cause and to your patients. Remember, all the support received really does make a difference to the charity and to the lives of the individuals who have suffered at the hands of oral cancer.


To donate or for more information about the ADG visit



[i] Facts and Figures. Mouth Cancer Action Month. Accessed online August 2015.

[ii] Your right: urgent two-week referral. The NHS Constitution. Accessed online July 2015. file:///Users/officeone/Downloads/Your%20right%20urgent%20two-week%20referral.pdf

[iii] Delivery Cancer Waiting Times: A Good Practice Guide. Accessed online July 2015.

[iv] Hollows P, McAndrew P G, Perini M G. Delays in the referral and treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma. Br Dent J 2000; 188: 262–265. Accessed online July 2015.


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Changing attitudes to dentistry and our approach

Changing attitudes to dentistry and our approach

The pubic perception of dentistry is not a flattering one. Recent new stories in the national press only serve to highlight this. The problem is that we don’t tell people what we do.

We don’t inform and educate the public around the benefits to their general health of taking care of their oral health. All too often they think that all we do is fix holes and extract teeth and apply expensive crowns; but of course we do much more and we should be shouting about it.

A perfect example of this is in the relationship between diabetes and periodontitis. There are clear, established links that reveal how the treatment of one can positively affect the other, but when was the last time you took the time to share this with a diabetic patient?

Recently, I met Dr Leticia Casanova, a Spanish Dentist who trained as a periodontist at New York University and has a PhD in Medicine, studying the connection between diabetes and periodontal disease, so she has a particularly relevant perspective. Dr Casanova recently published an article in the BDJ entitled, Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: A Two-Way Relationship.[i] The article says that if you can control people’s periodontal disease, you can actually see a genuine reduction in their diabetic condition.   

A measure of how well a diabetic is coping is in their glycated haemoglobin levels and this is recorded as a percentage. Every drop of 1% reduces the risk of heart disease and damage considerably. The article explains that being diabetic leads to an increased risk of developing periodontitis and that having periodontitis can also affect the body’s glycaemic index (in people with or without diabetes). So if you control somebody’s periodontitis, through delivering first class periodontal treatment, and then measure their glycated haemoglobin, it is possible to see a drop of up to a half per cent and this will really make a difference to their life.

The article from Dr Casanova effectively shows the interrelationship between the two problems and explains how we can deliver dental treatment that positively affects systemic disease. This leads back to my initial point, that we don't highlight the positives that we do for our patients enough. If general dentists were seen to take a more active lead in the medical conditions of their patients, maybe this would raise the profession in the eyes of the public?

The prevalence of diabetes is phenomenal, and periodontitis is three times more likely to affect those who suffer, and a lot of diabetics become edentulous, effecting how they eat – and this is not to mention the already well established links between gum disease and heart disease. So, if through making changes in our approach we are able get a patient’s diabetes better under control, we would be performing a far greater public service.

We should therefore take every opportunity to play a bigger role in our patients’ general well being. Not just in performing oral cancer scans, which are vital and we should all already be doing, but maybe through routinely measuring blood pressure, iron and sugar levels too, so that people will begin to see us not just as people who fix holes, but as doctors that can help with a medical condition.


For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999

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[i] L. Casanova, F.J. Hughes and P.M Preshaw, Diabetes and Periodontal disease: a two-way relationship, British Dental Journal, 217, 433-437, available at: [accessed 14.4.14]


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