Every hour someone in the United States is diagnosed with oral cancer. While it used to be most commonly found in the mouths of high-risk patients — like smokers, chewing tobacco users, and heavy drinkers — we are now seeing a shift in the incidence and prevalence of this frightening disease. Younger patients, especially women between the ages of 30 and 50 with no history of tobacco use, are more frequently being diagnosed. Current research links these increased findings to the HPV virus.

Advanced stages of oral cancer are life-threatening, with five-year survival rates of less than 50%. However, if it’s detected early, oral cancer has a 90% survival rate. For many patients, it is their dentist, their periodontist, their endodontist, or their oral surgeon who is most likely to identify clinical signs of oral cancer, or tissue changes associated with an increase risk of cancer.

Identafi by Star Dental, and sold exclusively through Henry Schein Dental, uses three distinct color wavelengths of light to aid in visualizing abnormalities in tissue that may be associated with oral cancer in the throat, tongue, tonsils, and oral mucosa.

Through the process of multi-spectral fluorescence, in addition to reflectance technology, Identafi can dramatically improve your ability to recognize oral cancer. With its compact light, and detachable, angled disposable mirror, all three light wavelengths can be used easily in the oral cavity.

First, white light is used for tissue visualization. Then, violet light is used to enhance the fluorescence of normal tissue allowing for stronger contrast relative to abnormal tissue. Finally, green-amber light is used to evaluate vascularity.

This life-saving technology is easy-to-use, affordable, and offers an obvious advantage in our front-line efforts to help protect our patients from oral cancer. The CDC recommends annual oral cancer screenings in all patients over the age of 17.

Million Dollar PPO Coaching and Consulting strongly urges adding light-assisted oral cancer screenings as a regular part of your recare system. We suggest charging a $15$35 fee for the procedure. We have created a letter of consent for each of our patients explaining the procedure, as well as offering information on insurance coverage. This form is given to each hygiene patient annually, and is signed regardless of whether or not they accept treatment. For a copy of this letter, feel free to visit our Web site.

While some insurance companies will reimburse for oral cancer screening, many do not. We suggest having your patients pay for the screening in advance, and then submitting D, along with a narrative to their insurance company. Do not assume that this will be covered regardless of what you are told during your verification of benefits.

Identafi oral cancer and help save lives!

Dr. Matthew Krieger is CEO and founder of Million Dollar PPO, a dental practice consulting and coaching company serving dentists across the United States. Its core philosophy is increasing profitability through increasing efficiency. It works with its clients through various programs to ensure that they have the understanding and the tools to create the practice that they’ve always dreamed of.