Innovations and changes in dentistry’s diagnostic technology seem to come out every time a new dental trade magazine is published. However, one thing that has remained fairly timeless over the last few decades is the oral exam.
Realistically, the periodic exam done every 12 months (all new patients have a comprehensive evaluation when they first come in to see us) is not, “the doctor was just in the room for two minutes and looked at my x-rays” type of appointment. Reviewing differences in medical status, medications, radiographs, changes in gum levels, and a look inside the mouth all go into that exam (and maybe a quick lecture about flossing more). The ideal scenario is for everything to look the same/healthy so we can then wish you a great trip to Florida this Winter, and let the hygienist finish the polishing. However, if that is not the case, the exam is also a perfect opportunity for us to catch anything suspicious looking, because early intervention is always the best predictor for long term health.
The Velscope is a wireless, handheld device that enables us to perform a quick, simple and non-invasive screening that can be done in 5 minutes during your routine hygiene appointment. It works through what is called ’tissue fluorescence’ which is an optical phenomenon that causes abnormal tissue to appear a different color. Healthy cells in the mouth will emit a bright green glow under the Velscope. By contrast, potential areas of concern will show a distinct lack of fluorescence, appearing dark and dull beneath the light. The Velscope can help us locate oral cancer and premalignant dysplasia, lichen planus, lichenoid mucositis, squamous papillomas, candidiasis, viral and bacterial infections and even salivary gland tumors.
Head and neck cancer, including oral cancer, cancer of the larynx and pharynx are the 6th most commonly diagnosed of the disease. 40% of tumors diagnosed in the head and neck are also found to be squamous cell carcinoma. Some more sobering facts; the 5 year survival rate is 81% if it is localized, which drops to 42% for regional, and if the tumor has metastasized it is only 17%. The sad reality is that we are starting to see a higher incidence of oral cancer in our patient population. Fortunately, early detection is an easy and accessible option to everyone with a dental provider (you just have to make sure you come in for regular check ups).
As healthcare professionals, we play a vital role in your oral and overall health. We do not charge a separate fee for the Velscope because we don’t want cost to enter your decision whether or not to have the exam. We strongly believe that our practice should deliver the highest degree of care, utilizing the latest technology in detection and treatment.
Come see it for yourself!
Just give us a call at (207) 782-5308 or contact us online if you would like to have the oral cancer screening be part of your next visit to a dental office.