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Oral Cancer – Importance of Oral Hygiene Visits

A Happy New Year to all of our friends. It has been another busy start to the year and we hope that you are on track to keep your New year resolutions. It is always harder as we get caught up in the “busyness” of everyday living.

Given the economic climate, it is a worrying trend that people are putting off their dental checkups. Dental health adds to overall health of mind and body. It is now well-documented that poor oral health leads to major health problems, with risks of heart disease, stroke, faster mental and physical decline later in life and other significant health issues. One of those very significant health issues is the increase being seen in oral cancers.

For a recent Australian dental magazine article, Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the Australian Dental Association’s Oral Health Committee, said: “Every day, at least three Australians are being diagnosed with oral cancer; an insidious, aggressive disease with a survival rate of only 50% over 5 years. Oral cancer often goes undetected until it is at an advanced stage.”

It is now the recommended standard of care for medical doctors, that anyone with oral lesions not healing be referred immediately to their dentist as the dentist is highly qualified to assess these and act accordingly. Time is of the essence with oral cancers and a late diagnosis most often has terrible consequences.

At Simply Beautiful Smiles our hygienists and therapist spend significant time on all oral examinations and cleans, with up to an hour set aside for each appointment. The dentist is called upon to check anything unusual and x-rays and photographic records are usually taken. It is highly recommended that each person has 2 oral examinations each year, unless the patient has only dentures. In these cases, it is still vitally important to have an oral examination at least every two years so that an oral cancer check can still be done. Not having teeth does not preclude one from getting oral cancer, and often the causes for the tooth loss in the first instance, places the edentulous patient (those who have lost some of all of their teeth) at higher risk for oral cancer.

Too many times we see patients who have had recent cleans elsewhere still presenting with obvious plaque and other problems not diagnosed. if your recent visit to the dentist was a quick one for your oral hygiene check, chances are that things have been missed.

To ignore your oral health is to ignore your general health and well-being as the two are now known to be intimately linked. Keep your New Year resolutions for good health and don’t let your oral examinations fall by the wayside. Your health is just too important.





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