Oral Cancer Screening

Your oral health is very important, and this is why we use technology that dramatically improves our ability to screen for oral abnormalities that could lead to cancer. Because early detection is essential to increase chances for successful treatment, we always check your entire mouth. We use the VELscope, a state-of the art, painless, non-invasive screening tool that helps us to see what we can’t see with the unaided eye during your routine oral cancer checkup.

We want our patients to have a bright and smiling future. Recently, studies show more than 25% of oral cancer victims have been under the age of forty and did not fall into any category of the know risk-factors like tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, or being HIV positive. And especially because in its earliest stages, oral cancer usually causes no pain or discomfort, we’ll recommend the VELscope examination for all of our adult patients once every year.

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Q. Are digital X-rays safe?

A. We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.

Q. How often should digital X-Rays be taken?

A. The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

Q. Is the VELscope safe?

A. Yes, the VELscope system is completely safe. The hand piece does not emit any radiation. The only thing being shone into the oral cavity is green light, generated by light emitting diodes.

Q. What can I expect during a VELscope examination?

A. After conducting a thorough oral cancer examination, we’ll use a handheld device that will shine a green light into your mouth. We’ll then examine the tissues through a special eyepiece. This technology takes advantage of your mouth’s natural fluorescence, which is normally invisible. Using the green light, however, we can look for specific changes in the color or structure of your oral tissues that might be indicative of abnormal cells. It takes about five potentially life-saving minutes.