We support a preventive approach to dental care and our dental payment plans help patients to visit their dentist as often as recommended. For the majority of our patients, this would be every six to 12 months. And, because patients are able to spread the cost of their dental care, they tend to visit their dentist regularly because they want to, rather than basing the frequency of their visits on financial reasons.
We recognise that a dental check-up is an important part of a patient’s wellbeing. A dental examination is not to just look for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, or perhaps have a scale and polish. In reality, a dentist carries out a comprehensive examination looking at many areas of your oral health and overall health including your tooth and gum health, alignment, your lifestyle (smoking, diet, alcohol consumption, relevant medical conditions) and, very importantly, checking for signs of mouth cancer. Because a dentist is able to spot the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer at an early stage, we would advise that patients visit their dentist every 12 months at the very least.
This advice is especially relevant at the moment, because November marks Mouth Cancer Action Month. This important campaign - run by the British Dental Health Foundation and sponsored by us - encourages people to be aware of the risks and symptoms of the disease, and to recognise the importance of regular dental visits to help spot signs of the disease early on.
It’s not unusual for patients to be unaware that their dentist checks for mouth cancer during a routine dental examination. Research conducted on our behalf revealed that 40per cent of patients didn’t know or were unsure that their dentist can check them for mouth cancer during a dental check-up*.
Why is detecting mouth cancer early on important?
When mouth cancer is detected and treated in its early stages, the survival rates are very good – as much as 90 per cent**. However, it is too often a disease that is diagnosed at a late stage – usually because patients don’t realise they have any signs or symptoms, or perhaps have not seen a dentist who might have spotted something for a while. At late stage diagnosis, five year survival rates are as low as 50 per cent.
If an at-risk patient does not have regular dental examinations, it is possible that mouth cancer could develop in between visits and go unnoticed by the patient. If a patient visits their dentist more regularly, such as every six or 12 months, the chances of any changes in their mouth being detected by their dentist are greatly increased.
*One Poll online survey of 2,500 respondents conducted September 2014 on behalf of
the British Dental Health Foundation and Denplan.
British Dental Health Foundation 2015 – www.mouthcancer.org
Published: November 4th, 2015