At every dental hygiene visit, our experienced dental hygienists will do a thorough visual and tactile assessment of your head and neck. The purpose of this is to detect anything unusual which may require further investigation by the dentist. New patients will have this same exam done by the dentist at their first exam; this is not just for areas of concern but as a baseline for our patients. In oral cancer screening, this is called a “white light” exam and is the most reliable means of early oral cancer detection.
Taking preventive measures, such as a thorough oral soft tissue screenings by your dentist and dental hygienist is a recommended part of a comprehensive assessment of your oral health.
Oral cancer often goes unnoticed in its early stages as it may present without pain or symptoms. According to Canadian Cancer Statistics, approximately 3 people will die each day from oral cancers (mouth, lips, tongue and throat) in Canada. If the cancer is detected early enough and before it has spread to other tissues, the 5-year survival rate is almost 90%.
While those who smoke or use tobacco products are at a higher risk, the fastest growing population of oral cancer patients are young, non-smoking, healthy male and female patients who have been exposed to certain strains of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus).
An oral soft tissue examination is simple, painless and only takes a few minutes. Just as a yearly physical is an important part of your health care, a yearly oral cancer check is essential for providing early detection. It is recommended that Canadians be checked for oral cancer on a yearly basis. Early detection can save lives.
At Landmark Dental Centre, we are fortunate to have a team trained and experienced in the use of auto-fluorescence or VELscope. It is with this advanced technology, along with a tactical examination of your head and neck by your dentist and dental hygienist, that we are able to screen for any signs of oral cancer in your mouth. As with many technologies, it is only as good as the knowledge of those using it. Dr. Brent Corlazzoli and his associates, Dr. Amanda Resener, Dr. Brent Parkins, and Dr. Angelyn Salaberry are all highly trained in the use of VELscope and in the performance of oral cancer screenings. In fact, Dr. Salaberry are one of three dentists trained in Oral Oncology (cancer) working locally at SAHCSI. She also works with the team of Specialists at the Vancouver BC Cancer Agency who developed & continue to do research on surgical implementation of this important technology.
One of the real dangers of oral cancer is that in its early stages, it can easily go unnoticed due to little to no discomfort or obvious physical changes. The good news: your dentist and dental hygienist are trained in early oral cancer detections.
To ensure good oral health, both you and your dental team play a role. While your dentist and dental hygienist will conduct a thorough head, neck and mouth exam during your regular checkup and cleaning, it is suggested to include a monthly at-home check of your mouth as part of your hygiene routine.
Because there are so many benign tissue changes that occur normally in your mouth, and some things as simple as a bite on the inside of your cheek may mimic the look of a dangerous tissue change, it is important to have any sore or discolored area of your mouth, which does not heal within 14 days, looked at by a dental professional.
Take a moment to watch this clip and learn how to conduct a thorough oral cancer check as part of your at-home hygiene regime, as suggested by the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation.