With the news that nearly half (48.3%) of us haven’t seen an NHS dentist in the last two years, two leading cosmetic dentists have revealed the risks we run if we skip dental check-ups.
James Goolnik, of Bow Lane Dental in the city of London, and Tariq Idrees, of Carisbrook Dental Care in Manchester, have both seen the shocking evidence of what can happen should we fail to see a dentist regularly.
James recommends we need to consider having a dental consultation every six months but for those of us with poor oral hygiene, gum inflammation and other troubling dental health problems or genetic factor, we may require regular appointments.
Shockingly, only 22.1 million of us were seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 months up to the 30 June 2016 – and that’s just 51.7% of the population.
James Goolnik cites a patient he saw this month as a prime example of we all need to fix a date in the diary to see our dentist.
He found a cyst in the jaw of a patient who’d swerved appointments with a dentist for four years.
James says: ‘The jaw is at risk from breaking, the teeth are risk of falling out as they have lost bone and roots.’
He now needs major surgery to remove it.
In another example, dentist Tariq Idrees spent 18 months reconstructing the mouth of a patient who’d not visited a dentist in 10 years – to the tune of £27,000!
Regular check-ups can also flag up more serious oral conditions such as early signs of oral cancer.
Early detection equates to better survival rates but, sadly, 60% of people are diagnosed in a late stage of the disease, meaning their survival rate is below 50%.
Interestingly, also this week, a study reveals a new treatment for mouth cancer may not be far away. Published in the August edition of Oral Oncology, experts combined two different treatments – that have never been used together – to attack oral cancer tumours.
Individually, the treatments had not affected late stage tumours but when combine, there was huge success in mice.
In the meantime, it’s important to be aware of any warning signs of something untoward and these include lesions in the mouth – see a dental professional if any white or red lesion fails to disappear within 14 days.
Other signs and symptoms include:
• An ulcer that doesn’t heal
• A swollen jaw
• A lump or swollen gums
• Sore throat, hoarseness or the feeling that something is caught in the throat
• Problems chewing or swallowing
• Pain in the ear
• Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
• Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
If these problems don’t disappear within two weeks, seek advice from a dental professional but remember, prevention is key and catching oral cancer early gives us a 90% survival rate.
So book that dental appointment today.