November is Mouth Cancer Action Month, a charity campaign that aims to get more mouth cancers diagnosed at an early stage by raising awareness of the risk factors as well as signs and symptoms, while also encouraging people to discuss them with their dental professional.
There are a number of ways to help make a difference during Mouth Cancer Action Month, and most of them are very easy. Here are a handful of ideas on how you can show your support.
With two in every three patients unaware that a visual mouth cancer examination is part of the standard check-up, the first and foremost thing to do is to talk about mouth cancer.
This is the only way we can start to increase awareness of mouth cancer.
You could even use Mouth Cancer Action Month as an ice breaker to start discussions with patients.
Social media is one of the best places to start when it comes to raising awareness. The Blue Lip Selfie campaign returns this year, and has already seen dental professionals getting involved. To take part in the campaign, simply wear blue lips and take a picture of your perfect pout (use #bluelipselfie when posting on social media).
On 16 November, dental professionals are being encouraged to partake in Blue Wednesday and don something blue – be it socks, hair bands or lipstick – and visit social media using the hashtag #mouthcanceraction.
The Oral Health Foundation provides high quality information and oral health educational products to health professionals across the UK.
To support Mouth Cancer Action Month, resources including blue ribbon pin badges, coasters, pens and posters are available. Visit the website at www.mouthcancer.org/shop for more details.
In and out
Why not open your practice doors and offer patients and local groups free oral health checks and mouth cancer examinations? Remember to display posters and leaflets in the practice.
Or, if you’d like to get out of the practice, why not venture to a local village parish group, homeless shelter or workplace to offer your expertise there? Discuss the importance of maintaining good oral health and hygiene as well as raising the awareness of mouth cancer. You could even do on-site mobile oral health checks.
To be able to continue with its charitable work, Mouth Cancer Action Month relies on its supporters to raise money.
Fundraising can raise awareness of oral health and mouth cancer in a fun way, while also helping to support Mouth Cancer Action Month financially.
There are lots of exciting ideas to raise money and awareness – from fancy dress days and quiz nights to cake mornings and midnight strolls.
Getting information across to patients is always difficult when chair time is so limited in the surgery. However, you could send a letter to existing patients informing them of the risks of mouth cancer.
The letter could include information such as:
- Who is at risk
- Why they should be aware of ulcers or red and white patches and swellings
- The importance of oral health checks and examinations.
While the ideal would be to send this letter to all patients, if resources are stretched then you could target higher-risk groups, such as smokers.
Coupling this letter with the offer of a free examination can be very effective.
There are additional activities that the Oral Health Foundation is encouraging dental professionals to embrace during Mouth Cancer Action Month.
One of the quickest and easiest ways of getting information across to patients is to set up a display using posters, banners and leaflets in the practice’s waiting room.
However, why stop at the practice? To spread the oral cancer message even further, reach out to sports centres, community centres, universities and colleges – the world really is your oyster!
To help support the foundation shape the direction and decision-making of certain issues, policies or laws, it asks that you write to your local MP.
By lobbying your local MP, you can help influence policy on all matters pertaining to mouth cancer. Template letters for extending the HPV vaccination for boys, for example, are available via the website.
Visit the website to pledge your support and receive your free Mouth Cancer Action Month 2016 registration pack.