The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

Barotz Dental | September 25, 2014

At Barotz Dental we are always doing our best to stay abreast with the most modern and effective techniques in preventing oral cancer. With the latest improvements in technology and modern cosmetic dentistry, we strive to provide our patients with the best possible oral cancer screening.

It is important that dentists perform at the very least a visual exam where they examine the back side or lateral border of a patient’s tongue for oral cancer. They should feel around the mouth, and use a piece of gauze to pull the tongue out to look at the back side of the tongue where the most frequent cancer lesions occur. This should be done for everyone, not just for smokers.

Back in the 60’s cervical cancer and the deaths from it were occurring at a fairly high rate. With the advent of pap smears and better prevention, the occurrence and fatalities from cervical cancer have been reduced by approximately 80 percent.

However, oral cancer is on the upswing. Dentists should at least be doing oral cancer screenings using the naked eye. In the 21st century, however, more advanced screening techniques for oral cancer have developed. Several devices now employ a range of specific color light spectrums that can detect oral cancer before it is even visual to the naked eye. We found a lesion on a patient that could not have been seen with the naked eye. Called a premalignant dysplasia, it hadn’t come to the surface yet. When we shined the light on it, it didn’t luminesce under the light, so it was suspicious and called for a biopsy. Upon examination, the pathologist said, “How in the world did you catch it? Nobody ever catches them this small in the precancerous stage. They are usually only found after they become malignant and we must aggressively cut them out. You may have saved half her tongue and half her jaw or possibly her life.”

This exam is something of which every individual should avail themselves, even if there’s a small extra fee and even if insurance does not cover it. Unfortunately, while the device is becoming more common, only the better dentists seem to invest in them. The reality is, your doctor is not up to date if their office is not offering advanced oral cancer screening. That can be yet one more consideration in selecting the right dentist.