Dentists around Australia are asking their patients an important question this summer that has nothing to do with the health of their teeth or gums.
Thousands of dentists who are members of the Australian Academy of Dento-Facial Aesthetics (AADFA) are playing a leading role in the prevention of skin cancer.
AADFA Director and Head Trainer, Dr Myles Holt, said the highly trained dentists are asking their patients a simple question that could help save lives.
“Our members will be asking patients if they use sunscreen every day and reminding them of the importance of sun protection”.
“While it may seem strange to some patients that their dentist is asking them about sunscreen, what many people don’t realise is that a growing number of Australian dentists are also qualified skincare experts.”
AADFA Dento-facial practitioners have a duty of care of that goes beyond teeth and gums and patients are benefitting from their advanced training and knowledge in skin health.
“There have been cases of dentists detecting skin cancers because we work in close proximity to the face. Dentists have then referred patients on for specialist skin treatment.”
“When we ask our patients about their brushing and flossing habits, we are reminding them of the importance of good oral health. By asking them about their sunscreen use, we are reminding them that they need to be sun smart to avoid potentially deadly skin cancer.”
Dr Holt said those who say it is not the role of dentists to provide skincare advice and treatment are wrong.
“Dentists already possess a high degree of knowledge of the head and neck region and that is where the majority of skin cancers are found.”
“Skin cancer rates in Australia remain high and thosein our profession who think dentists should confine themselves to teeth and gums are failing to see the bigger picture. They are doing their patients a disservice."
“The fact is patients do not see medical doctors or dermatologists routinely and early signs of skin cancer will largely go unnoticed or unchecked for prolonged periods. We already play a preventative role when it comes to many general health concerns, and this should include skin cancer.”
Dr Holt said AADFA members are trained to:
Dr Holt stressed that dentists are not seeking to become skin cancer specialists.
“Those of us who have been trained in dentistry and skincare can offer patients more than a standard oral examination. We can help fill an important gap in their healthcare and become a vital link to other health professionals,” Dr Holt said.
“One simple question from a dentist about sunscreen may end up having a big impact on a patient’s life.”