Mouth cancer rates are set to skyrocket in the UK following millions of missed dental appointments as a result of lockdown. This is according to the Association of Dental Groups (ADG), which is calling on ministers to take urgent action.
Dentists have warned that thousands of cases may have gone undetected. This could be due to the public avoiding dental practices, as well as the two and a half month pause on face-to-face dental appointments.
For example, 49% of households have at least one adult who has missed or decided against visiting the dentist. Considering there are 27.8 million households across the UK, these figures suggest 13 million adults have missed an appointment.
Calls for urgent action
Part of a major campaign urging ministers to rescue the worsening dentistry crisis in the UK, the ADG poll revealed:
- 17% of households have someone who missed a visit because they struggled to get an appointment
- 13% of households have someone who decided against making an appointment
- 11% of households have someone who decided not to go in for a scheduled check up
- 12% of households have someone who did not go to the dentist for another reason.
The latest figures show that more than 8,300 people in the UK are diagnosed with mouth cancer every year. Additionally, an estimated 2,700 people lost their life to mouth cancer last year. And over the last year, new cases have increased by 10%.
‘The fact that so many people are either failing to get dental appointments, or simply deciding against them, is deeply alarming,’ said ADG chair Neil Carmichael.
‘It suggests that a whole host of oral health problems are being bottled up during lockdown. And that dentists will be overwhelmed when routine appointments restart.
‘Dentists are especially concerned about mouth cancer as routine check-ups are the key to early diagnosis. If this is not happening and the early warning signs are not being detected, then mouth cancer rates could soon go through the roof.
‘Ministers must now take urgent action to ensure that we have the NHS dentists we need to deal with what’s around the corner.’