Can Your Dentist Save Your Life?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 11:58 pm

When most people think about visiting the dentist they normally just expect to get a healthy mouth, but new technology could help your dentist save lives!

A new Pennsylvania company is working to launch a saliva test that could detect oral cancer and diabetes. Nearly 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year and more than 8,000 die from the disease. Early detection of oral cancers results in about a 90% survival rate. Most cancers are not discovered until stage 3 when the five year survival rate drops to about 43%.

While many dentists screen for oral cancers the current tests require the dentist to use their judgement regarding the color and size of lesions. This new technology could help us avoid unnecessary biopsies — always a good thing.

Dentists are at the forefront in the fight against oral cancers because we typically see our patients more often than their primary care doctors. Dentists are also spending a LOT more time looking in the oral cavity than physicians.

Other saliva tests currently used in some dental offices can detect HIV or the human papillomavirus (HPV). While HPV is linked to mouth and throat cancers the current HPV test does not check for the biomarkers associated with those cancers.

The new test is currently being evaluated in clinical trials and has been approved for sale in Europe. American clinical trials are expected to be completed by the fall of 2013 and the product may be available to dentists (and patients) in 2014.

Helping our patients with their overall health is a big part of what we do here at Wilbanks Smile Center. Please contact us at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your next visit to our Toccoa, GA office.

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Category: oral health

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