The C Word – Dr Geoff Wan

Cancer.  There.  I said it.  Most of us will have witnessed how devastating it can be.  Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.  Most of us know how it works – a cell that divides and doesn’t have the controls to stop it from dividing.  So it keeps growing and growing.  The body doesn’t destroy it because it’s not a foreign invader, like a bacterial invasion. 

So, rather than seek to cure it when it is too late, how about checking for it, to make sure it is not there?  Men get their prostates checked regularly.  Women get their lady checks regularly.  Why?  Early identification leads to more conservative treatment and a more predictable outcome.  We don’t know who it will strike, so no-one is safe.

During our examinations, we make it apparent that we are searching through your mouth for things that are not supposed to be there.  All dentists look at individual teeth all day, that is what they taught us in dental school.  Some look at gums and might see gum disease, and tell you about it; but we will certainly look at all those pink tissues which have high cell turnover, for tissue changes that may be linked to cancer.  Sometimes there are other conditions that are uncommon, but we will see them in every 200-500 patients.  But we will always make a point of checking under the lips, cheeks, around the tongue, under the tongue, the roof of your mouth, and any other corner of your mouth that no-one else looks at. 

In my career, I have identified 2 lesions in the mouth that were fortunately benign in nature.  However, I have screened a patient to have severely high hypertension which was caused by a tumor in the adrenal gland.  I couldn’t believe how grateful the patient was to see me after she had that tumor removed. 

All dentists see teeth.  We at Smiles Unlimited see you, as individual persons, and we strive to help you establish and maintain optimal oral and overall health.  

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