How Dental Lasers are Used for Cavity Detection and Oral Cancer Screening
A growing number of dentists are turning to laser systems such as VELscope's VX Enhanced Oral to conduct routine oral examinations. However, if you are seeing these lasers for the first time and are concerned about the number of cavities and/or other abnormalities being detected, take into account the following information. While lasers are not perfect, they are also valuable tools that can help prevent tooth decay and advanced oral cancer.
A laser detecting cavities uses a safe, painless light to provide your dentist with a digital reading of your tooth. The dentist then assesses the reading to determine if any detected abnormalities are in fact cavities.
Lasers are extremely effective in finding cavities that an X-ray would not pick up. At the same time, they are known to be overly sensitive. It is not uncommon for lasers to pick up areas where decay may begin but has not in fact started. Some dentists recommend filing such areas to prevent future decay. Our office, on the other hand, agrees with the majority of experienced dentists and employs a "wait and see" policy to avoid unnecessary filings. Some potential cavity spots do remineralize without professional help and giving your teeth time to fix themselves can spare you the pain and expense of receiving unnecessary filings.
We also do a thorough visual examination before making oral care recommendations. While lasers are a valuable tool in any dentist's arsenal, they are not necessarily more effective than a traditional oral exam. Both an oral and laser exam are in order if you want a full picture of how your teeth are doing and how many (if any) filings are needed.
Oral cancer poses a serious threat to people of all ages. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancers are more deadly than other forms of cancer. Additionally, those who have had oral cancer are more likely to develop another form of cancer later on.
One of the main reasons why oral cancer is so deadly is that it is not usually detected until it is in the late stages of development. Detecting oral cancer when it is in the first stages of development can dramatically improve your five-year survival rate and prevent this cancer from spreading to other organs.
Asking your dentist for a laser screening for cancer can literally mean the difference between life and death. Many people who have oral cancer do not feel pain or other symptoms that are often associated with cancer, so don't wait until you feel something is wrong before you get professional help. It only takes about two minutes to do a VELscope oral cancer screening and you will not feel any pain or discomfort during the process. The examination will highlight areas of your teeth, gums and tongue that may be in need of further examination. The laser views abnormalities that are invisible to the naked eye and so can enable a dentist to discover cancerous cells that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
The importance of good oral hygiene simply cannot be overstated. At the same time, dental problems may arise due to age, genetic disposition and/or other circumstances beyond your control. Regular oral examinations can catch problems early and remedy them before they become serious. Those who want the best, most thorough dental exam available should choose a dentist who uses a laser to detect oral abnormalities. A good dentist will not only rely on a laser when making recommendations regarding filings and other dental work but he or she will use it to ensure you do receive any needed treatment in a timely manner.