Oral cancer is often deemed the “forgotten disease,” because it kills more people than testicular cancer, cervical cancer and cancer of the brain each year and receives little publicity in return. Each year, over 30,000 Americans contract oral cancer, and only 57% of these people will live for more than five years without treatment.
Many people believe that if they abstain from tobacco and alcohol use, oral cancer will not affect them. Tobacco and alcohol use does contribute to oral cancer; however, 25% of those diagnosed abstain from both substances.
The best way to stay protected from oral cancer is to get annual oral cancer screenings. At SmileArts Dental, we perform an oral cancer exam during every regular dental checkup. In addition to doing a visual examination, we also use a special light (Identifi®) that uses tissue fluorescence to identify abnormal tissue changes before they are visible with the human eye.
How does the Identifi® work?
The Identifi® uses Fluorescence Visualization (FV) in an exciting new way. Essentially, bright blue light is shone into the mouth to expose changes and lesions that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. One of the biggest difficulties in diagnosing oral cancer is that its symptoms look similar to symptoms of less serious problems. The Identifi® System affords the dentist important insight as to what is happening beneath the surface.
The healthy soft tissue of the mouth naturally absorbs the Identifi® frequency of blue light. Healthy areas beneath the surface of the soft tissue show up green, and the problem areas become much darker.
How is the Identifi® examination performed?
The Identifi® examination literally takes only two or three minutes. It is a painless and noninvasive procedure that saves many lives every single year.
Here is a brief overview of what a Identifi® examination is like at SmileArts Dental Studio:
Initially, our hygienists will perform a regular visual examination of the whole lower face. This includes the glands, tongue, cheeks and palate as well as the teeth. The Identifi light is then moved around the oral cavity while the provider looks for abnormal tissue color.
Lesions and other indicators of oral cancer are easily noticeable because they appear much darker under the specialized light.
If any concerning areas are noticed, our dentists might take a biopsy to determine whether or not this is oral cancer. The results of the biopsy dictate the best course of action from there. Otherwise, another oral cancer screening is performed in one year’s time.
If you have any questions or concerns about oral cancer screening or the Identifi® system, please contact our office.