There is always someone who is willing to take the other side in a story in order to have their five minutes in the spotlight. It is not surprising the Globe did not have to look far to find a dentist not supporting a screening test that could save a life or prevent disfiguring surgery -- especially when you have many dentists who still think amalgam fillings are ok.
Oral cancer is rising due to the link to HPV. When oral cancer is detected early it can save your life. At this point there are only two oral cancer screening tests, ViziLite Plus and VELscope, which can detect malignant cells. The research shows that the tests do aid in early detection.
The ViziLite Plus test, which is what I use, is not a harmful test; the patient only needs to rinse with a vinegar tasting liquid and open their mouths. What other cancer screening test is that simple and pain free?
The Globe also goes on about the cost of the test, and quotes one dentist who charges $80 -- which, the Globe notes, insurance doesn't cover.
I charge $70 dollars and offer the test to high risk patients and those who want it. Each kit costs about $40 dollars, so $30 dollars is not a huge profit, as any dentist will tell you. I do not do the screening to make money.
Doctors are now saying that women don't need yearly mammograms, yet a woman I know was recently treated for breast cancer -- cancer which was found during her annual exam. Where would she be today if she had had to wait an additional year for her exam?
The dentists opposed to the oral cancer screening test lower themselves to the status of tooth plumbers instead of mouth physicians. It is my job as a dentist to educate people on maintaining their oral health -- which leads to whole body health -- not simply scrape plaque off their teeth.