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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time you can contribute not only to your patients’ beautiful smiles, but to their health. A healthy smile doesn’t just mean bright teeth and pink gums. Oral cancer attacks the entire mouth, and oropharyngeal cancer is confined to the base of tongue, soft palate, tonsils and back of throat. Regardless of the type of cancer, the American Cancer Society estimates that 58,450 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer this year, and 12,230 people will die of these cancers. (alabamapublichealth.gov). 

Raising awareness and promoting early detection may save the lives of your patients, or even their loved ones. To help kick off the month-long mission that can save lives, we’re sharing nine tactics your practice can use to help spread the word.

1. Educational Campaigns

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to support the cause. Educational campaigns like informational pamphlets, seminars or webinars, and sharing resources on social media  help raise awareness about risk factors, symptoms, and the importance of regular screenings. 

2. Oral Cancer Screenings

The perfect time to screen for oral cancer is when your patients are in your seat. Examining the oral cavity for any regularities may just save their lives and act as an early prevention exercise.

3. Patient Education

While you’re screening for any abnormalities, you can have a conversation with your patients about the risk factors for oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use, HPV infection, sun exposure, and poor oral hygiene all contribute to the risks, so this is a good time to provide guidance on lifestyle changes that reduce that possibility.  


4. Encourage Self-Exams

We’re our own best advocates when it comes to our health, and teaching patients how to perform self-exams is another tool they can use to monitor between exams. You can show them what to look for including changes in appearance, persistent sores or ulcers, and difficulty swallowing or speaking. 

5. Referral + Collaboration

A strong referral network with oncologists, primary care physicians, and oral surgeons helps ensure timely and comprehensive care for patients diagnosed with oral cancer. It can also help ease the stress and worry that accompanies such a diagnosis. Patient outcomes and quality of life are strengthened with this interdisciplinary approach.  

6. Community Outreach

Spreading awareness becomes easier when you engage in community outreach events like health fairs and free screenings. Underserved populations are especially vulnerable to disease, so prevention and early detection can make an impressionable  impact. 



7. Use of Technology

It’s no surprise that technology plays an important role in prevention of oral cancer. Tele-dentistry has become more popular over the last few years, particularly in rural or remote areas. Dentists performing virtual consultations and screenings can be just as effective at identifying individuals at risk. 

8. Advocacy + Support

You don’t have to stop raising awareness at your practice. Advocating for policies and initiatives to promote prevention, screening, and treatment can be pushed at the local, state, and national level. With the help of organizations dedicated to oral cancer research, education, and support services, dentists can make a difference. 

9. Follow-Up + Monitoring

We know you stress the importance of regular visits to the office, and it’s especially important for high-risk patients to follow-up on a routine basis. Early detection can mean life or death, and patients need to understand the risks.

Let’s shake up awareness this month and make oral cancer awareness something people talk about and take seriously. If you’re looking for other ways to promote good oral care at your practice and want to chat, schedule a Practice Discovery Call to see what’s possible.


Written by Amplify360

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