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Shining a Spotlight on Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time to shine a spotlight on a disease that affects millions worldwide. Understanding the gravity of oral cancer and the importance of early detection can save lives. Let’s delve into some key aspects:

Statistics Speak Volumes:
Each year, over 58,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer. It causes over 12,250 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day.

Consequences of Late Detection:
Late-stage diagnosis of oral cancer can have devastating consequences, including disfigurement, difficulty eating and speaking, and even death. Early detection significantly improves treatment outcomes, with a five-year survival rate of around 90% for those diagnosed at an early stage.

The Vital Role of Dental Providers:

During routine hygiene examinations, dental providers play a crucial role in conducting oral cancer screenings (OCS). Oral cancer screenings should be a standard part of every dental check-up, not an optional add-on. It’s not just about checking boxes; it’s about saving lives.

By documenting the OCS exam in patient notes, dental providers ensure a comprehensive record of each patient’s oral health status, facilitating early detection and timely intervention if needed. Our objective is to spearhead an initiative within the dental community aimed at conducting thorough screenings for all patients visiting dental practices. Simultaneously, we are launching a public awareness campaign to highlight the importance of oral cancer screenings. This campaign seeks to raise public awareness about oral cancer and emphasizes the necessity of undergoing annual screenings for early detection. Similar to the impact of regular PAP smears, mammograms, and prostate exams, an informed and engaged public, coupled with a motivated medical community, can significantly contribute to early detection of oral cancer.

Empowering Patients through Education:
Informing patients about the importance of oral cancer screenings is key. Before conducting the exam, explain to patients what you’re looking for and why. Address any concerns or questions they may have, and emphasize that early detection through routine screenings can significantly improve prognosis and treatment outcomes.

Taking Action:
As we enter into Oral Cancer Awareness Month, let’s recommit ourselves to promoting early detection, raising awareness, and supporting those affected by oral cancer. Encourage patients to prioritize their oral health by scheduling regular dental check-ups that identify early oral disease at the most treatable stage.

4 Practice Ideas During Oral Cancer Awareness Month:

  1. An impactful platform and message for patient outreach campaigns:

Hygiene Schedule Openings
Contact unscheduled hygiene patients and emphasize the importance of oral cancer and oral health exams especially during April.

  1. Support Research:
    Donate a portion of dental services (e.g., teeth whitening, fluoride treatments, New Invisalign cases) to Oral Cancer Research. Have a flyer printed and framed at the front desk letting patients know that a portion of these services will be donated to the Oral Cancer Foundation research.
  1. Promote Awareness:
    Give free office T-shirts or Oral Cancer Foundation bracelets to patients who donate. Hold a gift card or gift basket raffle, donating proceeds to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Share a quick, informative video on social media about painless oral cancer screenings and their importance for early detection.
  1. Community Engagement with your Practice:

Host a Screening Event:

Scheduled Dental Office Screenings:

         Offer screenings throughout the month, allowing interested individuals to call and schedule appointments. Utilize staff time efficiently by scheduling screenings between patient appointments or after hours to maximize the number of screenings completed.

Office Event:

         Allocate a minimum of 3 hours for an in-office event where walk-ins and appointments are welcome. Promote the event locally to generate interest, from posting flyers at local businesses to arranging interviews with media outlets. Partnering with local media can help spotlight your efforts to improve community health.

Out of Office Public Event:

         Select a weekend for an off-site event for maximum turnout. Consider partnering with a local pharmacy or health organization to collaborate with them for marketing, supplies, and leveraging their foot traffic for a successful event.

Don’t know where to start with any of these? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!

Together, we can make a difference in the fight against oral cancer and save lives through early detection and proactive intervention.

Remember, oral cancer screenings are not just a checkbox – they’re a vital part of comprehensive dental care that can make a real difference in patients’ lives. Let’s continue to prioritize early detection and empower our patients to take charge of their oral health.

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