What are Oral Cancer Screenings?

Oral cancer can affect adults of any and all ages. Some patients are more at riskof developing oral cancer, like those who smoke or use chewing tobacco.However, we often recommend an annual oral cancer screening as a way to keep up on your oral health. With early detection, treatment is both easier and more effective.

Why would Oral Cancer Screenings be needed?

Lifestyle factors like smoking and chewing tobacco can increase the risks of developing oral cancer. Even if you've quit smoking years ago, it is still important that annual screenings be done. The screening itself takes just minutes and can be helpful in preventing future oral health problems. Even if you're not a smoker or use other types of tobacco, we recommend having a screening done regularly.

Who is a candidate for Oral Cancer Screenings?

If you're a smoker or use other tobacco-related products, we recommend coming in for routine screenings. If cancer runs in your family, it's important to consider coming in to get checked. Most adults are good candidates for these screenings. The benefits of having a screening done far outweigh the few minutes it takes to have it performed in our office.

What happens during Oral Cancer Screenings?

First, we will perform a dental examination as usual. Then, we will lift the tongue to look underneath it and visually scan the inside and outside of your mouth. We are going to look for unusual lesions, bumps and plaque-like film that could be a sign of oral cancer. If we detect anything unusual, we will recommend that a biopsy be done to find out if the area is benign or cancerous. Keep in mind that the majority of cancer screenings come out negative, but it is still important to have them done so that we can catch a problem early on, if it's there.

What Types of Tools Are Used?

VELscope® is an oral cancer screening device that uses a special light to help dentists see abnormal tissue that might not be visible during a regular exam. It is made by LED Medical Technologies Inc., a company based in Vancouver, Canada.

The VELscope® works by shining a blue light into the mouth. This light causes healthy tissue to fluoresce green, while abnormal tissue may appear darker or redder. This can help dentists to identify potential problems early, when they are most treatable.

Studies have shown that the VELscope® can help to improve the early detection of oral cancer. In one study, the VELscope® was found to be more than twice as effective as a traditional oral exam at detecting oral cancer.

The VELscope® is a safe and painless procedure. It is a quick and easy addition to a regular dental exam.

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