NHS Barking and Dagenham is offering local residents who haven’t been to the dentist in more than two years a free dental check-up in an attempt to tackle the rising number of people suffering mouth cancer.
Anyone who isn’t registered with a dentist or who hasn’t visited one in more than two years is entitled to the free check-up. The offer is part of November’s oral cancer awareness month and is in response to significant increases in the number of people diagnosed with the illness in the UK, particularly men and women aged in their 40s (1). To claim a free check-up people just have to quote ‘November Check-Up’ when making an appointment with a local dentist.
Mouth cancer is a particular problem locally. In a recent mouth cancer screening programme, run in East London by the Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, one in every fifteen people examined was referred to the hospital for further diagnosis or treatment (2).
NHS Barking and Dagenham Oral Health Promotion Officer, Jeanette Shaw, said; “Mouth cancer is a serious and growing problem. It kills one person every three hours in the UK. However, like a lot of diseases, early detection and treatment dramatically improve your chances of surviving the illness. Regular dental check-ups will not only help you to keep your teeth in top shape but they’ll increase the chance of anything nasty being identified before it takes hold.”
“If you aren’t registered with a dentist, or if you haven’t been to one for more than two years, you should definitely take up the offer of a free check-up. It just might save your life.”
“Mouth cancer can develop at any age but you can greatly improve your chances of avoiding it by quitting cigarettes and drinking alcohol responsibly. Quitting smoking can be difficult but there is support out there. The Stop Smoking Service offers practical advice and support for local people and could help you kick the habit for life.”
'Mouth cancer is a serious and growing problem'
People who smoke and drink heavily increase their risk of developing cancer by up to 30 times. Chewing tobacco, betel quid or paan are also contributing factors. Barking and Dagenham has much higher rates of smoking and alcohol abuse than the national averages. An estimated 32 per cent of local residents smoke, which is the highest rate in London. The number of people admitted to hospital each year in the borough for alcohol related harm (ie as a direct or indirect result of alcohol consumption) is 1755 per 100,000 population. This is significantly higher than the England average of 1473 per 100,000.
You can contact the Stop Smoking Service on 020 8532 6284.
Symptoms of mouth cancer include an ulcer that does not heal, or red or white patches in the mouth that do not heal within 3 weeks. If you have any of these symptoms you should see a dentist immediately.
Please note that only the initial dental check-up is free. Any treatment arising as a result of the check-up will be subject to normal charges. Only people who have not been to the dentist in more than two years are eligible for a free check-up. To claim a free dental check-up call your dentist and quote “November Check-Up” when booking your appointment.
To find your nearest dentist call freephone 0800 38 95 360 or visit www.nhs.uk.