Optident has revealed that it is the sole UK distributor of the Velscope, a breakthrough in the detection of mouth cancer.
The launch was held at the company’s headquarters in Ilkley, Leeds, with presentations from Dr Vinod Joshi, founder and chief executive of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, John Pohl, from LED Dental, and David Bloom from Senova Dental Studios based in Watford, Hertfordshire.
The Velscope is a small system developed by the Canadian company, LED Dental Inc., in conjunction with the British Columbia Cancer Agency and other institutions.
It is used to shine a safe blue light into the patient’s mouth, which excites the mucosal tissue.
This will show up as apple green when viewed through the special filters.
Any abnormal tissue will appear as a dark patch.
Once a suspicious area has been noticed the patient should then be referred for a biopsy to determine the diagnosis.
The Velscope shows up problems that the naked eye cannot see, meaning that mouth cancers can be detected much sooner, increasing the patient’s chance of survival.
Because it shows up early stages of the disease, the true extent of the cancer can be determined.
Dentists can decide exactly how much tissue to remove, eliminating the chance of any cancer being left behind after surgery.
Mouth cancer most commonly affects those who smoke or chew tobacco, consume alcohol and are over 40.
However, there has been a significant increase in the number of younger people being diagnosed who do not smoke or abuse alcohol.
The cause of this in a lot of cases appears to be the human papilloma virus, which can be contracted during sexual intercourse, especially oral sex.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Joshi said: ‘Early detection can increase survival rate up to 80-90% in many cases.
‘The Mouth Cancer Foundation is extremely pleased that the Velscope is available in the UK.
‘The introduction of this product means that dentists will be able to screen patients for mouth cancer beneath the surface, where visual check-ups may otherwise miss.
‘Fortunately the survival rate for mouth cancer is extremely high if it is caught during the early stages. This is why the Velscope is such an important innovation in dentistry.’
Health experts are recommending there should be an annual oral cancer exam for those over the age of 18, or every six months for those who are more at risk, such as smokers.
David Bloom, of Senova Dental Studios, has been using the Velscope in his practice as part of routine check-ups.
He believes that ‘dentists should see themselves as oral physicians rather than just dental
surgeons,’ and every dentist should be checking for mouth cancer.