Tools of the trade: Oral ID

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oral cancer detection light

by Dr Eleni Katsaromitsos, Earlwood Dental Care, NSW

This device uses a fluorescent light for the early detection of lesions that are suspicious or that could be potentially cancerous. We use it with all of our check-up and cleans as part of our oral mucosal screening.

What’s good about it

While we always checked with the naked eye in the past, the Oral ID can identify anything suspicious much sooner. It’s a much more effective way to identify potential problems. Oral cancer is fairly aggressive so it’s important to catch it as early as possible. By the time it’s visible to the naked eye, it’s generally pretty far advanced and survival rates come down.

The device looks like a small torch and you wear specially coloured glasses. When you shine it over the mucosal surfaces, the light looks green. Anything that looks dark brown or black is suspicious and requires further investigation. If I find anything, I take a photo and create a diagram of where it was positioned and its size. We get the patient back two weeks later and if it’s still visible, they get referred to an oral pathologist.

It’s important to be careful with your language when you announce a problem to the patient. We generally don’t use the term ‘cancer’ because we aren’t 100 per cent certain at this point. 

What’s not so good

The unit has a small head that only lights up a small area so you need to hold it quite close to the mucosa.

It comes with rechargeable batteries and instructions on how to recharge them. However, on the device itself, it says do not use rechargeable batteries—but it works fine with them.

Where did you get it

Amalgadent

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