Cancers are frightening diseases and oral cancer is no different. With over 100 Americans being diagnosed with this form of cancer every day (according to the American Cancer Society) this is definitely a disease we’d like all of our patients to be aware of. Fortunately, when detected early, there are a lot of treatment options- making a regular annual scan for oral cancers an essential part of your dental hygiene checkup.
The screening process is quick and simple – a handheld device called a VELscope, operated by your dentist, shines a light into your mouth. Healthy tissue will fluoresce (or light up) differently to unhealthy tissue, making it easy for your dentist to detect any areas of concern long before they are visible to the naked eye. In addition to detecting oral cancer and pre-cancer cells, this device also detects bacterial, fungal and viral infections as well as salivary gland tumors.
If any areas of concern are detected, your dentist will then take a closer look and inform you of how the diagnosis process will work as well as your treatment options.
When should I start having oral cancer screening?
Certain people are more at risk of developing oral cancer than others:
- Tobacco users (smoking or chewing)
- People who regularly consume alcohol
- People over the age of 55
- Anyone who’s lips have excessive exposure to the sun
- Anyone with HIV or other immunocompromised diseases
If you meet any of these criteria, have noticed discoloration or persistent sores in your mouth or simply want to have some peace of mind, visit Distinctive Dentistry today. Our dental hygienist and dentists will be happy to include a scan in your next checkup.