Letter: Dental check-up

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Sir: I was extremely disappointed with your article "Open wide" (Magazine, 20 March). As a dentist I am well aware of how nervous people are when receiving treatment. However, the point of modern dentistry is to prevent disease, and where necessary to intervene as early as possible.

This is particularly true of oral cancer. You point out that 1,600 people die from this terrible disease every year and cite this as another reason for being frightened of dentists. Like cervical cancer, this disease often has a pre-malignant stage which is symptomless and can be diagnosed only by a thorough oral examination. In the nine years since I qualified I have spotted three early squamous cell carcinomas. All three patients are alive and well.

Next time you have some space to fill in your otherwise excellent magazine, perhaps we can have some photographs of patients undergoing radical facial surgery to remove tumours which went undiagnosed because the patient was too frightened to attend a dental check-up.

CHARLES McCOUBREY

Rhuddlan, Denbighshire

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