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Calls for extra dental funding to improve health

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has called for the government to invest extra money into dentistry in order to reduce the amount it costs patients to go for a regular check-up.

The idea behind this is that if check-ups were less expensive, patients would get them more frequently and thus have better oral health. The BDHF is adamant that this would increase the rates of early mouth cancer detection, which in turn would drastically reduce the death rate associated with the disease.

A survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the BDHF, found that 48 per cent of the UK public agrees, believing that investing more money in dentistry would decrease the rate of fatal cancer.

The same poll revealed that 47.9 per cent of people think that the government should invest more money into cancer research. The BDHF also supports this idea on the basis that it too would reduce the fatality rate for mouth cancer.

This survey was carried out to tie in with Mouth Cancer Action Month, a dental marketing campaign that ran through November to highlight the dangers of mouth cancer. Incidences of mouth cancer are forecast to rise in the coming years, while the vast majority of other forms of cancer are forecast to decrease.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the BDHF, said: “Although very welcome, the £30m cash injection into dentistry earlier this year doesn’t go far enough. Poor oral health has been linked to four of the five major killers – cancer, heart problems, strokes and respiratory problems.”

Dentists obviously play a key role in the detection of mouth cancer. Around 75 per cent of all cases are initially detected by dentists, highlighting the importance of the profession in the fight against a cancer that 7,698 people were diagnosed with in 2011.

Graham Smith, consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at St Anthony’s Hospital, said: “Investment in dentistry is essential to increase the number of people who attend regular dental check-ups. This will improve oral health, provide oral screening to detect mouth cancer early and provide invaluable opportunities for cancer education.”

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