Skip to main content

If you are a regular patient here at Bel Canto, then the answer will be yes, because yearly oral cancer screenings are an essential part of your preventative dental care plan and are provided at your cleaning appointment. For anyone who hasn’t seen a dentist recently, you could be missing out on this critical examination.

Every year, several thousand people in Canada are diagnosed with oral cancer. The rates of oral cancer are increasing, and unfortunately, it does have a higher mortality rate than breast or prostate cancer, often because of a late diagnosis.

Where can Oral Cancer develop and what are the signs?

Oral cancer can affect the soft tissues in your mouth, including your lips, tongue, gums, the insides of your cheeks and the roof and floor of your mouth. It can cause changes to the appearance, texture and colour of these tissues, or may create sore spots or ulcers that fail to heal after two weeks or so.

Symptoms include white or red patches on the soft tissues in your mouth, developing a sore throat that doesn’t go away or feeling as if something is caught in your throat or noticing that you have difficulty or pain when chewing and swallowing food. If you wear dentures or other dental appliances, you might notice they begin to fit less comfortably. Most oral cancers develop on the sides of the tongue, the floor of the mouth, or on the lips.

Are some people more at risk of Oral Cancer?

There are some risk factors for oral cancer and which include smoking and tobacco use, excess alcohol consumption, and excess exposure to the sun. People who eat very few fruits and vegetables are more at risk, as is anyone over the age of 40. However, it’s important to remember that approximately a quarter of all oral cancers are diagnosed in people with no apparent risk factors which is why it’s vital everyone receives regular oral cancer screenings.

Why early detection is crucial

When detected at an early stage, the long-term prognosis for oral cancer significantly improves. Without regular cancer oral cancer screenings, the first symptoms are tricky to see, but early detection could save your life. Dr. Mackie and his hygienists are specially trained to detect the very smallest signs that something might be wrong. They will carry out a detailed examination of the tissues in your mouth and will also do an extra-oral examination. There is no need to worry as this examination is completely painless and non-invasive and will only take a few minutes.

Additionally, Bel Canto has invested in VELscope, an advanced screening technology and which is a small hand-held wireless device.

More about VELscope

VELscope doesn’t replace our doctor’s experienced eye but does help to enhance the efficiency of a traditional oral screening. With this device, it’s possible to see any changes to tissues that cannot be detected with the naked eye. VELscope is designed to emit a blue spectrum light that when shone inside your mouth causes healthy tissues to fluoresce, whereas any areas where cells have changed will fluoresce slightly differently. The difference allows detection of any abnormalities more efficiently and without the need to use any messy dyes.

Get more details about VELscope here

It’s unlikely that Dr. Mackie will find anything wrong, but if he does see anything that he thinks requires further investigation, then a small sample of cells can easily be collected for a more detailed analysis by a specialist. In between your visits, if you ever see any changes in your mouth that concern you, then please contact us.

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.