As a dentist in Oakville, knowing everything that is going on in your mouth is a daily part of my life. And there are many conditions we can prevent, detect early, or treat. Most of the time, my purpose for prevention and early detection of issues with your teeth and oral cavity is to help you save money and time in the dental chair. Sometimes, it can help save a life.
The early detection of oral cancer is something I am passionate about. Because so many people avoid dental visits – or ignore what’s going on in their mouth because they figure it will just go away on its own – oral cancer detection often happens when it’s advanced. This means the overall survival rate of someone newly diagnosed with oral cancer is just 65%. But, if the cancer is detected early, that rate skyrockets – to 84%. That’s why part of every patient checkup at Trafalgar Village Dental includes an oral cancer screening and we recommend to all our patients that you conduct regular self-exams.
Oral Cancer Screening with VELscope®
When it comes to finding oral cancer, dental clinicians have few options that go beyond the traditional head and neck exam. VELscope® is designed to help clinician’s spot lesions they couldn’t see with the naked eye – leading to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes.
VELscope does not diagnose cancer. That’s up to the specialists. But it does reveal potential problems when used as during your regular exams. This provides you piece of mind, especially as early detection can save lives.
What it does: This oral cancer screening system “interrogates” the tissue by emitting a blue light into the cavity that excites the tissue. The cells release fluorescence when they’re in this excited state. Abnormal tissue typically appears as an irregular dark area; normal tissue has a green fluorescence pattern. This makes it much easier to detect abnormal tissues long before you can see any physical changes.
- No rinses, stains or dyes required
- Doesn’t interfere with other planned procedures
- Hygienists can perform the exam if they have adequate training
- It only takes 2-3 minutes to complete an exam
Oral Cancer Self-Exams
The most common symptom of oral cancer is a sore in the mouth that doesn’t heal. Most mouth sores will heal in about two weeks, so if you have had one for longer, it needs to be checked out.
If you’d like to take a proactive approach with your own health, you can conduct regular self-exams – starting when you’re healthy so you know your mouth tissues look when they are normal. Because most oral cancers begin in your mouth’s soft tissues, you’ll want to examine these regularly with the help of a flashlight and mirror.
Things to look for:
- Red or white patches anywhere in the soft tissues of your mouth
- Mouth sores that easily bleed or don’t heal
- Any changes in colour of your oral tissues
- Indented areas
- Dentures that don’t fit
- Sudden loose teeth without trauma
- Difficultly speaking or swallowing
- Swelling or lumps.
If you notice any of these changes in your mouth, contact us for a checkup and VELscope oral cancer screening.
All of us are dedicated to helping our family of patients live their best lives with a healthy smile – and that includes helping you with the early detection of any oral issues – including oral cancer.
Yours in excellent dental health,
Dr. Nitin Kapoor & the team at Trafalgar Village dental – your dentist in Oakville