Make regular dental checkups part of your annual routine in order to maintain good oral health and to reduce your risk of oral cancer.
April is Oral Health Month, as such we’re challenging you, our fellow Fraser Health employees, to set up checkups with your dental professional and help raise awareness about oral health and the risks of oral cancer by encouraging your clients to do the same.
Aarti Brar, a dental hygienist with the Abbotsford Public Health Unit, says it’s imperative to acknowledge that your oral health is linked to your overall health.
“As a dental professional, I can’t overemphasize that the foundation of oral cancer screening and early diagnosis as a key factor in improving survival rates,” she explains. “Some effective ways to prevent oral cancer are to have regular dental checkups, limit alcohol and tobacco consumption, eat a healthy diet and limit sun exposure.”
Oral cancer is a serious disease and often goes undetected. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 4,700 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer and 1,250 will die from this cancer. That’s why, dental professionals like Aarti stress the importance of staying educated, knowing the signs and taking measures to receive an early diagnosis and prevent disease altogether.
There are a variety of risk factors and each one is dependent on a person’s unique body response. It’s important to start a conversation about risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption that are associated with oral cancer to help you minimize the threat.
If you have a client or patient who complains of a sore in their mouth that doesn’t heal, has difficulty swallowing or notices changes in sensation of taste, or if they have any lumps, white or red patches in the mouth or tongue, advise them to refer to a dental professional for further examination. A dental professional will provide the necessary extra oral and intraoral exams and refer you to the appropriate specialist about your signs and symptoms.
For an extensive list of risk factors, sign and symptoms and treatment options please refer to the Canadian Cancer Society.
 Canadian Dental Association 2018, accessed 22 February 2018 <https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/talk/complications/diseases/oral_cancer.asp>