Guest blogger: Liz Grant from The Ben Walton Trust

This year on our website and other social media platforms for our Glasgow clinic we’ve been highlighting the risk factors of mouth cancer.

We’ve been liaising with the team from The Ben Walton Trust, a Scottish-based charity which was set up to raise the awareness of this particular cancer.

This month’s guest blogger is Liz Grant from the Ben Walton Trust who has focused on a key event in the charity’s calendar.

Liz writes:


“November is Mouth Cancer Awareness month and as such, The Ben Walton Trust is hosting a dinner for people who have had mouth cancer and can find it difficult socialising in restaurants with family and friends.

For some people, trying to explain to restaurant staff that they can’t have food with any lumps in it, there must be lots and lots of gravy with potatoes and veg and all food must be taken with copious amounts of liquid, is just too huge a task.

Added to which, ultimately the presentation of the dinner is completely different from any one else’s (and that is assuming the chef has the time and patience to work on the menu request).

Liz Grant from the Ben Walton Trust is our guest blogger for September

Liz Grant from the Ben Walton Trust is our guest blogger for September

On Monday 18th November 2013, staff at Brown’s Restaurant in Giffnock are going to present a menu that can be eaten by everyone there, to highlight not only the difficulties that patients have eating but also to show that in actual fact, this type of menu can be produced from foods available to the typical diner.

Patients, their friends and families, healthcare professionals, dieticians, the press and the local MSP are all attending.


We are also, as a spin off of the planning, in the initial stages of producing a cookbook using patients’ recipes and also incorporating tips as to ingredients that work well together..and those that don’t. Iain the chef from Brown’s is helping with this.

Should anyone like to attend the dinner or have some recipes/tips/advice for the cookbook that you would like to share, please get in touch.”

If you have any questions about the above blog or wish to make any comment about the content please contact us by clicking here.

You can read more about the warning signs of mouth cancer in this previous blog on the topic.

A Beatle “reborn” from an old molar? Imagine…

We enjoy reading some of the more unusual media stories about the dental world and one offering that’s been doing the rounds in print and online certainly fits that bill.

Dentist Michael Zuk, based in Red Deer in Canada, who bought John Lennon’s discoloured molar for £19,500 at a 2011 auction, reckons scientists can potentially extract the singer-songwriter’s DNA and one day could clone a new Lennon!

To quote one of his songs – “imagine”!


Lennon gave the tooth to his housekeeper after the music genius had it pulled out in the ’60s, and dentist Michael bought it from her son more than 30 years after the Beatle was shot dead at his US apartment block in 1980.

Michael has been quoted as saying:

“Many Beatles fans remember where they were when they heard John Lennon was shot.

“I hope they also live to hear the day he was given another chance.”

We note that in many of the stories the auction house said at the time of the sale that DNA could not be obtained.

But with new advances in genetic/DNA research, Michael believes that Lennon’s DNA can be harvested and, in time, converted from tissue cells into stem cells, and eventually into a reborn Beatle.

He’s further quoted: “To say I had a small part in bringing back one of rock’s greatest stars would be mind-blowing,”


Until that day dawns there is a more serious and positive side to this venture. Michael is advertising other dental endeavours: pendants and a piece of sculpture made from Lennon’s “tooth dust”, a picture book of celebrities’ teeth, the parody song “Love Me Tooth”, and other initiatives to promote awareness of mouth cancer.

Up until we read the lines about the worthwhile cause of mouth cancer awareness – something that our own Glasgow dental clinic is doing this year too – we might have been forgiven for checking our calendars to see if April 1 had arrived early…

Should you have any questions about this blog post or would like to find out more about the services and treatments our Glasgow dental clinic can offer patients please call us on 0141 339 7579. We’ll be happy to assist with your enquiry.

Mouth cancer awareness campaign: knowing the risk factors

Throughout 2013 our Glasgow dental clinic has been running a mouth cancer awareness campaign – promoting the risk factors and sharing expert knowledge about the condition.

We’ve worked with the team from the Ben Walton Trust which is a charitable organisation set up following the death of a young Scottish student – Ben Walton – after contracting mouth cancer.

In this post we’re sharing information about the risk factors related to mouth cancer. The information comes from the team at the British Dental Health Foundation, a UK-wide charity which exists to promote positive messages about dental health and share information about dental/oral issues.

Here’s what the Foundation has to say about the risk factors related to mouth cancer.


Around a fifth of the UK’s population smoke and the habit is still considered the leading cause of mouth cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, up to half of current smokers will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease, including mouth cancer. Smoking helps to transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous.


Drinking to excess can increase mouth cancer risks by four times. As alcohol aids the absorption of tobacco into the mouth, those who smoke and drink to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the disease.

Poor diet

Around a third of cases are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. It is recommended that people eat a healthy, balanced diet including five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Increasing evidence also suggests that Omega 3, found in foods such as eggs and fish can help lower risks, as can foods high in fibre such as nuts, seeds, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.

Chewing or Smokeless tobacco

Smokeless tobacco is normally defined as any tobacco product that is placed in the mouth or nose and not burned. Although some people believe this type of tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is much more dangerous. The types of smokeless tobacco products most used in the UK often contain a mix of ingredients including slaked lime, areca nut and spices, flavourings and sweeteners. The terminology for smokeless tobacco varies, but the main types used in the UK include:

Gutka, Khaini, Pan Masala (betel quid), Shammah and Maras powder (these are sucked or chewed);
Zarda, Qiwam, or Mawa (chewed);
Lal dantmanjan, Gadakhu, Gul, Mishri, or Creamy Snuff (dental products which are used as toothpaste or rubbed on gums);
Nass (can be used nasally, sucked or chewed).

Smokeless tobacco is used particularly by South Asian Communities, especially women. The incidence of mouth cancer is significantly greater among South Asian women. Other parts of South Asian communities are also more at risk from the effects of smokeless tobacco including: people of Bangladeshi origin; those in older age groups; and people from lower socioeconomic groups.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

The Human Papilloma Virus, transmitted via oral sex, is increasingly being linked to mouth cancer. Younger people are particularly at risk. A recent study in the USA has connected over 20,000 mouth cancer cases to HPV in the last five years. Experts suggest it may rival tobacco and alcohol as a key risk factor within 10 years, although some research indicates that people with mouth cancer caused by HPV may have a greater chance of survival. People with multiple sexual partners are more at risk.

Who is at risk?

Mouth cancer incidence has always been strongly related to age. In the UK, just under half (44 per cent) of all mouth cancer cases were diagnosed in people aged 65 and over, with more than a quarter (25 per cent) diagnosed in the under 55s. Although the gap has significantly diminished over time, men are still twice more likely to develop mouth cancer than women, although for men, age-specific incidence rates peak at ages 60-69, whereas for women it peaks in the over-80s.

Given the most well established risk factors for the major types of oral cancer are excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, it is not surprising that mouth cancer incidence is strongly associated with deprivation. The most recent England-wide data shows incidence rates for head and neck cancer are more than double (130 per cent) for men living in more deprived areas compared with the least deprived, and more than 74 per cent higher for women. Similar results have also been published for Northern Ireland and Wales while Scotland shows an even larger deprivation gap.

The rising incidence and mortality rates in young and middle-aged adults are undeniable. A series of studies in southern England looking at risk factors for patients under 45 years concluded that most young patients are exposed to the traditional risk factors of tobacco smoking and alcohol. However, the relatively short duration of exposure to these known risk factors suggests that other causes may also be involved. There was also a small sub-group of patients who had little, if any, exposure to the major risk factors.

Our clinic’s message

Should you have any concerns about any mouth problems then please contact your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. Our Glasgow dental team is able to carry out an examination to ascertain if you are showing any symptoms that need further investigation.

If you have any questions arising from this post please contact our Glasgow clinic on 0141 339 7579.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Campaign – May guest blog. If in doubt…check it out!

Our clinic is running a mouth cancer awareness campaign in a bid to raise the awareness of this particular cancer and ensure people are aware of the potential warning signs.
Previous blog posts have included information on the potential warning signs.

Throughout the year ahead we’ll work with members of the Ben Walton Trust, a charity which was set up after the death of student Ben Walton.

This guest blog has been written by Ben’s father Michael Walton – and we thank him for his input…

“Recently I was in Glasgow for two events, firstly a visit to Philip Friel Advanced Dentistry to discuss their first ever Mouth Cancer Campaign which will run from April until November 2013.

The second was to speak the following day to the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists (BSDHT) on the topic of Early Detection and Rapid Referral of Oral Lesions.

Now why may you ask, as I am not a dentist or a medic of any sort, was I speaking to such a group? Well. my son Ben died of mouth cancer when he was 22 years old, an otherwise fit and healthy young man with excellent oral hygiene but in retrospect he had had a bout of glandular fever and had a mouth ulcer that was large enough for his GP to measure – it disappeared entirely, but when he developed mouth cancer it was in the same place. So a lesson there, although I must point out that most mouth conditions are not cancerous.

I set up the Trust and spent a great deal of time reading around the subject and realised that there was very little public and even professional awareness of the disease.


I was also aware that there was little research done on the subject. Yet it was apparent to me, at least, that something was happening. What had traditionally been a late to middle age disease of older men who had drunk and smoked to excess and was largely preventable, it was affecting more younger men and women for no apparent reason.


Michael Walton – author of our guest blog

At that time, 16 years ago, the annual incidence in the UK was given as between 1,800 -2,400 new cases ( 400 in Scotland) with only a 50% survival rate. In 2010 the figures had risen to 6,200 new cases ( 770) in Scotland but the mortality was around 2,000, so a large increase but better survival rates, down ,I believe, to increased public and professional awareness, leading to more rapid detection. Survival rates can improve from a low of less than 50 % to over 90% by rapid detection and treatment.

One of the first things we implemented was a research project in collaboration with King’s College dental school London where we helped to fund a three year study on patients under the age of 45 years. Remarkably this showed, for the first time, that in 25% of these cases, alcohol and tobacco were not implicated in causing the disease.

I do not have the space here to speculate what it was but if you go to our website you will see more information as well as the key signs and symptoms of mouth cancer.

After the results of the King’s study were published, Professor Saman Warnakulasuriya made the following statement”


“It is clear from this study that we cannot stereotype who may be at risk from mouth cancer. Young and old, smokers and non-smokers, drinkers and non-drinkers and any social class may be affected. This is important information for dentists and physicians (and pharmacists) so as not to overlook signs and symptoms in the absence of stereotype to avoid misdiagnosis”.

So what is Phil Friel doing in his campaign? – well, he will be offering free mouth cancer screening during a couple of specific periods later this year. If the patient wishes to say thank you a donation can be made to The Ben Walton Trust via our Justgiving page at

I personally believe that early detection is probably the single most important factor. However ‘gold standard’ the treatment plans are and however good the ‘centres of excellence’ become, the fact remains that until the patient presents, the pathway of detection, diagnosis and treatment cannot begin and precious time is lost.

I applaud Phil Friel and his practice for taking this initiative, as not only may it save distress and indeed potentially lives , it will also underpin an awareness massage that is so important.

Don’t have sleepless nights but if you notice anything unusual in your mouth or a condition which is not clearing within two weeks……..Check it Out

With Best Wishes Mike Walton.”

Should you have any questions or concerns arising from the above blog please feel free to contact our clinic on 0141 339 7579.

Mouth cancer awareness campaign: meeting with charity at Glasgow dental clinic

Meeting between Michael Walton, Liz Grant and Philip Friel at our Glasgow clinic

Michael Walton, Liz Grant and Philip Friel at clinic meeting

We told you last week we’ve launched a campaign to raise awareness of the signs and risk factors of mouth cancer.

We’ll be blogging about the topic in the months to come and on Friday we met up with two members of the Ben Walton Trust – a charity set up in memory of a young student, Ben Walton, who at the age of just 22 lost his fight with mouth cancer in December, 1995.

We met Michael Walton, Ben’s father, and fellow charity representative Liz Grant at our dental clinic in Glasgow.

The charity has the following aims…

• to give funding to King’s College Dental School, London, and other institutions, for research into mouth cancer in the under 45s
• to distribute information and advise individuals and organisations on mouth cancer, without charge
• to collaborate with the media to increase public awareness
• to work with health professionals to encourage sharing of best
• and to givs emotional and financial support to vulnerable patients

The aim of our meeting with Michael and Liz was to share our year long schedule of activities and messaging and brainstorm some ideas. We’re delighted that we’ll be working with their team too on a couple of initiatives that are coming up in the months ahead.

Should you wish to donate to this worthwhile charity you can do so via their online donation page here.

If you have any concerns about the potential warning signs or issues relating to mouth cancer our team here is happy to discuss them with you.

You may find our launch blog which outlines the potential warning signs and also the traditional causes of mouth cancer helpful to read. You can find it by clicking here.

Be aware of the potential warning signs of mouth cancer: our new campaign launches

We’re launching a campaign to raise awareness of the risks of mouth cancer in the year ahead.

Mouth or oral cancer is not the most commonly discussed cancer although globally experts have identified it as having a rapid rise in cases over a ten year period.

In the UK there are about 6200 new cases each year – with around 700 of them in Scotland.

In Britain, more people die annually from mouth cancer than are killed in road traffic accidents (2010)*.


Early detection is possible through regular oral check-ups – and, as with most cancers, the sooner mouth cancer is diagnosed the better the chance of successful treatment.

All dentists are trained in the detection of mouth cancer – and look for any signs during regular check-up appointments with our patients.

We also have access to the Velscope – an innovative, hand-held device that provides dentists and hygienists with an easy-to-integrate examination system for the early detection of a wide variety of oral diseases, including pre-cancer and cancer.

Potential live saving tools such as Velscope, provide valuable assistance during examinations of the soft tissue in the mouth.

It is a simple and highly effective adjunct to our normal examination and can detect very early signs of oral cancers and abnormalities that may otherwise remain unnoticed. As clinicians, it is our duty of care to offer patients the most advanced treatments available.

During our campaign we will be working with the Scottish-based charity – The Ben Walton Trust. The Trust was set up in 1996 to commemorate the life of Ben Walton who was a university student when he lost a year-long battle with mouth cancer.

We are meeting the charity’s Michael Walton later today and will share more information about this charity following our meeting.


So what are the potential warning signs of mouth cancer?

• Lumps in the mouth that increase in
• Mouth ulcers that do not heal after two weeks
• Red, white or mixed patches in the mouth
• Persistent soreness in the mouth.

Please do bear in mind that most mouth conditions are not cancerous – but if you do have any concerns about any of the above you should contact your dentist or doctor as soon as possible.


Mouth cancer can be caused by a number of issues and the main ones are listed here…

• regular high alcohol consumption.
• smoking.
• poor diet
• poor oral hygiene.

The combination of the first two factors considerable heightens the risk.

What is interesting is that among patients under the age of 45, these traditional causes do not always seem to apply.

In the weeks and months ahead we’ll be sharing with you more information about mouth cancer and highlighting the work we, as dentists, do in its detection.

Should you have any questions about any of the above information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Glasgow dental clinic. Contact can be made via the website or by phoning the main clinic number on 0141 339 7579.

*information from the Ben Walton Trust<