Zeroing in on Oral Health with VELscope®
At Nordhus Dentistry, our team is committed to preserving your general health, as well as your oral health. Dr. Byron J. Nordhus uses VELscope®, a top-of-the-line cancer screening technology, at his Wichita, KS, practice. A supplement to traditional oral cancer exams, the device can alert dentists to early signs of oral cancer not normally visible to the naked eye. To learn more about how VELscope® can protect your oral health, contact us today.
Importance of Cancer Screening
Of the 45,000 patients diagnosed with oral cancer annually, only 50 percent survive more than five years. Though men over 50 and people who smoke or drink regularly face a much higher risk of developing cancerous growths, 25 percent of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke or drink regularly.
Oral cancer's high fatality rate is attributed to many factors, including difficult diagnosis. By the time noticeable symptoms appear, the cancer has often progressed to the later stages and is harder to treat. This makes early diagnosis all the more important. Dentists perform oral cancer exams at least once a year to increase their chance of catching signs early, but these can be subtle. Common symptoms include:
- White or reddish spots in the mouth
- Voice change or chronic hoarseness
- Sores on face, neck, or mouth that do not heal
- Painless lumps or thickness in the lining of the mouth or skin
- Loose teeth
- Tongue pain
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Difficult or painful chewing and swallowing
- Poorly fitting dentures
- A feeling of something caught in your throat
If you notice any of these symptoms or even minor changes in your oral health, notify your dentist immediately. They may be early symptoms of a larger problem.
How VELscope® Can Help
Traditional oral examinations have not changed much in the last few decades. During an oral cancer exam, dentists rely primarily on a visual and tactile intra and extraoral inspection of the head and neck. This technique is effective in identifying abnormalities, but may not always be enough. Many signs of oral cancer, such as the white or red patches in the mouth, are difficult to detect with the naked eye.
VELscope® supplements oral exams by identifying near-invisible abnormalities. The handheld device emits a fluorescent light that is highly sensitive to even very slight changes to the tissue. The soft tissue of the mouth presents distinct patterns in fluorescent lights which are visibly disrupted by disease or trauma. Thus the device makes discolorations or other irregularities far easier to identify. Because the technology is fluorescent-based, the screening is also noninvasive. It can be performed in about two minutes during a routine dental checkup. If your dentist sees any suspicious abnormalities, he may recommend a biopsy to confirm whether the area is cancerous.
VELscope® technology is not a substitute for a regular oral cancer exam. But it can increase the chance for a successful early diagnosis. The sooner your dentist is able to form a diagnosis, the sooner you can begin appropriate treatment.
Contact Us Today
Dr. Nordhus recognizes the importance of identifying complications as early as possible. If you would like to schedule an oral cancer exam, reach out today.