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What really happens at ‘dental check-up’ time

More than “Just a check-up”

Most people after a dental check-up would probably say that the dentist looked at and poked their teeth and gums and said strange things to a nurse on the computer. But during a full assessment, your dentist examines all the soft tissues of the mouth including cheeks, tongue, around the tonsils, soft and hard palate. In short, all parts of the soft lining of the mouth are checked for abnormalities that could prove malignant.

Some statistics

Around 50% of head and neck cancers can be seen in the mouth, often before any symptoms are noticed by the patient. In fact, many are painless. Approximately 5,000 Australians present each year with head and neck cancers.

Many health campaigns over the years have taught us to monitor for breast, bowel and skin cancers. In comparison, we know little about screening for cancers in the oral tissues. Like other cancers, early detection and treatment are key, and survival rates are high.

‘But I don’t smoke . . . and I eat healthily’

Oral cancers don’t necessarily fit a risk profile, for example smoker, heavy-drinker, over 50 etc. They can occur in anybody – young or old, smoker or not, male or female.

(Peer-reviewed) Journals in the USA suggest that dentists (and hygienists) are ideally placed to detect up to 90% of mouth cancers at a regular dental check-up. Dental professionals are far more familiar with tissues of the mouth than their medical colleagues.

A regular dental check-up saves money in the long run

The other more obvious benefit of regular dental check-ups is that dental problems are discovered early. Timely treatment is often minimal treatment, generally saving tooth tissue and dollars!

Bli Bli Smiles…for the teeth of your life

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