Just how important is an oral cancer screening? Consider these statistics from the Oral Cancer Foundation:
- More than 49,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year
- Of those, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years
- Oral cancer will cause more 9,750 deaths this year, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day
Those are only three of the reasons why your Fairfax dentist at Mosaic Smiles performs an oral cancer screening at each one of your dental checkups. This important procedure is not necessarily part of a checkup at every dentist’s office. We, however, are 100 percent dedicated to both your oral and general health. In fact, we use VELscope®, an advanced dental technology that allows cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions to be spotted earlier. Read on to learn more about VELscope, the signs or oral cancer and what you can do to reduce your risk.
How Does VELscope Work?
VELscope is a handheld wand that uses blue light in order to make cancerous and pre-cancerous tissue more visible than they would be to the naked eye. The blue light makes soft tissue in your mouth look fluorescent. Under this light, spots that are potentially cancerous look different than healthy tissue. VELscope is only meant to augment a visual inspection of your mouth and lips, but it is capable of finding oral cancer earlier.
What are the Signs of Oral Cancer?
As all cancer screenings, this one is performed in order to find signs before symptoms begin to develop. When examining your mouth, throat and lips, the dentist in Fairfax looks for:
- A sore anywhere in or around your mouth that won’t heal
- A red or white spot of tissue that is either smooth or scaly
- Dentures that no longer fit well
- A difference in your bite
In addition to these visible signs, we’ll also feel along your jaw, neck and shoulders to find a lump. We’ll also want to know if you’ve been experiencing an earache without infection, a persistent sore throat or difficulty swallowing and speaking.
How Can You Reduce the Risk of Oral Cancer?
You won’t be surprised to know that there is strong link between tobacco use and the development of oral cancer. So if you smoke cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, then we encourage you to quit. The same goes for chewing tobacco. Other steps include limiting alcoholic beverages, eating a healthy diet and using lip balm with SPF.
Contact Our Office Today
With VELscope and a visual oral cancer screening, the dentists at Mosaic Smiles can help you avoid this disease. Call our office today to schedule a dental checkup and screening.