“The American Cancer Society’s current estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013 are”:
- About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
- An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.
During your bi-annual cleanings, our hygienists perform a preliminary oral cancer screening and Dr. Yarbrough performs a full oral cancer screening during his exams on all our patients. This may appear as a redundant practice, but it is our job to manage, capture and understand your oral health and part of that is by being aware of the potential of oral cancer threats. During an oral cancer screening we can gather precise information to assist us in discovering early onset of oral lesions on the roof of the mouth, tongue, throat and gum tissues.
By performing these thorough checks during your cleanings we are able discover minor growths that are simply detachable in their early stages, in most cases. However, when regular examination are prolonged and not performed two times per year it is quite possible that if a growth begins forming it without being diagnosed, it could potentially progress into a silent threat to the oral cavity as a whole. Typically in the early stages of these growths they are challenging to be seen by the unaided eye, hence the importance of performing a thorough oral cancer screening by a dental professional. By using instruments and telescopic loops, we are capable of seeing tissues up close and can find abnormalities very quickly, usually.
In addition to our traditional methods and regular instruments for monitoring oral cancer, we also use a Velscope to assist us in the early detection of Oral Cancer. This astounding technology allows us to detect abnormal tissue structures by using a “distinctive blue-spectrum light which causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce”. Healthy tissues “fluoresce in distinctive patterns — patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease”. The Velscope allows us to see irregular tissue patterns that we would have otherwise not have seen with the unassisted eye. The Velscope is non-invasive, safe, quick, and precise tool. This light is a potentially lifesaving instrument that can help us detect the early onset of Oral Cancer.
Oral Cancer is a silent threat because it usually does not become painful and extremely apparent to the naked until it is too late. Undetected it can cause extenuating damage to the oral cavity and potentially throughout the body. Once diagnosed, Oral Cancer has the potential to spread to the larynx, esophagus and lungs. If detected early on, there are several methods of treatment, removal and other procedures to help procure the longevity of the overall health of the oral cavity and body. Preventative medicine is always your best bet, by seeing your dental professional twice a year with a periodic examination, Oral Cancer can most of the time be identified during a treatable stage!
Here is a YouTube video explaining how the Velscope works: