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01 Jul 2004 | Australasian Dental Practice

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Looking Beyond Teeth: August is Dental Awareness Month 2004

Looking Beyond Teeth: The link between overall health and oral health is the theme for Dental Awareness Month, August 2004.


"Australians should be raising all their oral health issues, not just those related to teeth with their dentist," said Dr Don Wilson, chairman of the ADA Oral Health Education Committee. "Oral and general health and disease share characteristics that often occur together, meaning oral health and disease can be interlinked to general health and disease.

"Oral health conditions are often best detected and managed by a dentist, and the ADA will be encouraging Australians to discuss with their dentist symptoms such as unusual ulcers, sores or lumps that don't heal, symptoms of a dry mouth and bleeding gums which might be indicative of other health conditions."

Oral cancers account for 6.5% of cancers diagnosed in Australia and account for 2% of deaths. There is a link between oral cancer, alcohol consumption and tobacco use, as well as sun exposure in the case of lip cancers. If oral cancer is detected early, there is a 70% survival rate in the first 5 years, compared to a 30% survival rate if the cancer has spread (1998 December/Dental Update from a paper titled Orofacial Disease: Update for Dental Clinical Team: 2. Ulcers, Erosions and Other causes if Sore Mouth Part I, University of London).

Research suggests that over a quarter of Australians have not visited their dentist for three or more years. Conditions like oral cancer and diabetes have a serious impact on an individual's well being. They also impact on the community in terms of social, emotional and financial burdens.

The ADA will be driving awareness of good oral health during August as part of Dental Awareness Month. However, in 2004, the focus will move from the teeth to include the whole mouth. In particular, the ADA will highlight a number of very important oral health issues, including Oral Cancer, Diabetes, Periodontal Disease linked to Cardiovascular Disease, Ulcers, Eating Disorders, Dry Mouth Syndrome and Snoring.

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