Oral health: the multidisciplinary series

19 October 2021
4 min read

In November 2021, Dental Update – in partnership with Denplan, Oral-B and the Oral Health Foundation – are bringing you a brand-new multidisciplinary webinar programme, to coincide with Mouth Cancer Action Month.

If you miss any or want to catch up on-demand, you are able to register after the live event!

It aims to get more cases of mouth cancer diagnosed at an early stage, by raising awareness of the disease whilst encouraging everybody to be more vigilant about changes in their mouth. 

Why is this important?
The Oral Health Foundation notes that “More than 2,300 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer."

They also explain that, “Anyone can be affected by mouth cancer, whether they have their own teeth or not. Mouth cancers are more common in people over 40, particularly men. However, research has shown that mouth cancer is becoming more common in younger patients and in women. There are more than 640,000 cases of mouth cancer diagnosed each year worldwide and it is the eleventh most common cancer. In the United States there are around 43,000 cases each year.

“In some countries there is an increased risk because of problems such as tobacco chewing - in India, for example - and the rates are even higher. There are, on average, almost 7,800 new cases of mouth cancer diagnosed in the UK each year. The number of new cases of mouth cancer is on the increase, and in the UK has increased by over half in the last decade alone.”

What’s on offer: 
The series aims to keep you informed by offering a number of great webinars to help you expand your knowledge and develop your skillset, with a focus on mouth cancer. 

For example, after watching ‘Early detection of head and neck cancer: a guide for the dental team’ on November 3, delegates will have improved their recognition skills in terms of head and neck cancer. They will be better able to communicate findings with their patients and fellow professionals in secondary care. The most important outcome is to improve the prognosis for their patients should they present with a malignant lesion. 

Meanwhile, ‘Mouth cancer: presentation, detection, and referral post Covid-19’, on November 16, aims to combat the significant reduction in cancer referrals (and the inevitable increase in of patients now presenting with advanced disease and poor outcome) caused by the reduced access to primary care caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.The lecture will present an interactive approach to the recognition, recording and referral (three Rs) of a spectrum of mucosal abnormalities, including squamous cell carcinoma, to ensure optimal patient management and the best use of the Urgent Suspected Cancer (USC) pathway in the present day healthcare environment.       

The mouth cancer-focused webinars conclude on December 1, with ‘Oral cancer: A maxillofacial surgeon’s perspective’, which will provide details of the journey for a patient presenting with head and neck cancer, diagnostic techniques, operative interventions and follow-up. It will also include key interactions with dental services to improve patient outcomes.

In addition, there are a host of webinars focusing on oral health, including: 

  • ‘Amalgam: a practical guide’, on November 2
  • ‘10 tips for predictable aesthetic full dentures – creating something to smile about!’, on November 4
  • ‘Safeguarding: an update’, on November 8
  • ‘Avoiding the knife – non-surgical periodontal therapy’, on November 9
  • ‘Multidisciplinary care - pushing orthodontics to its limit!’, on November 11
  • ‘What to do when things go wrong - a practical guide to risk management in dentistry’, on November 15
  • ‘Management of worn anterior teeth: system, steps and science’, on November 17
  • ‘The secrets to confident and successful endodontics’, on November 23
  • ‘Glass-ionomer cements – “MI” uses or abuses?’, on November 24
  • ‘Silver diamine fluoride in general dental practice’, on November 25
  • ‘Caring for dental patients with dementia’, on November 29
  • ‘Superglue for teeth? An update on universal adhesives’, on November 30
  • ‘Single tooth implants in the aesthetic zone’, on December 2


What more can you do?
Almost nine-in-ten (86 per cent) British adults have now heard of mouth cancer. However, awareness on the signs, symptoms and risk factors is poor. In fact, awareness of the major signs and symptoms for mouth cancer are as low as 23 per cent, whilst awareness on the major risk factors of mouth cancer is as low as 16 per cent. Therefore, whilst it is important to keep yourself well informed, it is also vital to ensure you pass along key information to patients. 

One way to do this is by ensuring your patients are aware of the key risk factors of mouth cancer.
These include: 

  • Smoking - Smoking tobacco increases your risk of developing mouth cancer by up to ten times, compared with never-smokers. This includes smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars. Around two in every three (more than 60 per cent) mouth cancers are linked to smoking.
  • Alcohol - Drinking alcohol to excess increases your risk of mouth cancer.  Alcohol is linked to just under a third (30 per cent) of all mouth cancers.
  • HPV - Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Practicing safe sex and limiting the number of partners you have may help reduce your chances of contracting HPV.
  • Chewing and smokeless tobacco - Chewing and smokeless tobacco is extremely harmful and can significantly increase a person's risk of being diagnosed with mouth cancer. 
  • Diet - Around a third of mouth cancers are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet and a lack of vitamins and minerals.
  • Sunlight and sunbeds - Too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a known cause of skin cancer. This can occur either from natural sunlight or sunbeds.
  • Cancer history - Those who have had a mouth cancer are at greater risk of developing it again. There are also other cancers which can mean a person is more likely to get mouth cancer. These include: oesophagus cancer (of the food pipe), squamous cell skin cancer, cervical cancer, penile cancer and anal cancer. 
  • Family history, genetics and the immune system - Although we do not know why, there is a slight increase in risk of mouth cancer if you have a close relative diagnosed with the disease. Mouth cancer can also be more likely for those who carry certain inherited genes. Links have been found for those with genetic conditions affecting the bone marrow, skin or fingernails. Research also shows those undergoing treatment for HIV or AIDS, and those taking medication after organ transplants are slightly more at risk of mouth cancer. This is because some of the medication in these cases can weaken the immune system.