A major part of what we do here at Great Smile Family Dental is preventive dentistry. Preventive dentistry focuses on maintaining oral health and wellness to stop decay from starting and detecting problems early. One of the greatest issues that can strike patients is oral cancer, a disease caused by irregular cell copying and propagation.
An oral cancer screening is an exam performed by a dentist to check for cancerous or precancerous cells in the mouth. It often includes a visual and tactile component as well as x-rays or a scan done with a special light that highlights cancerous cells.
Great Smile Family Dental goes one step further by incorporating the VELscope® into our exams. The VELscope is a wireless, handheld scope that uses the natural fluorescence of oral tissues to visualize abnormalities that can’t be seen with regular sight. In particular, the dentist is looking for oral mucosal abnormalities that are oral cancer or signs of precancerous growths.
Oral cancer screenings are essential for determining whether or not a patient is still healthy or is walking down the path towards cancer. Cancer would be one of the most terrifying diagnosis a patient can receive, especially if it was not discovered until the late stages. This is because it is difficult to treat and can spread to other parts of the body with alarming frequency.
When caught early, though, cancer is often treatable and can be eliminated in months. But because the first stages are often without symptoms, many often go without being checked and therefore do not receive a diagnosis during the easiest to treat stages.
Cancer can develop in anyone, so patients of all ages need to be screened for the disease. Still, some people are more likely to develop cancer than others. In particular, anyone who consumes tobacco products in any form puts themselves at risk, as does anyone who smokes substances in general. Likewise, an individual with a history of cancer, personally or in the family, is also more likely to develop it. These people should be screened regularly or twice a year.