Health Screening and Dental Prevention
Your health is our absolute priority. In recent years, there have been many proven associations between general health and the health of your mouth. Whilst many of the diseases in the mouth are complex and painless and the loss of a tooth may not be considered as terrible in the greater scheme of things, the links to other life-threatening conditions are proven and so we have devoted ourselves to keeping up to date with all the latest research and we continue to add to our health screening portfolio:
Cherrybank Health Screening Portfolio
Blood pressure screening
This is offered as a complimentary service to our patients as part of their regular dental health screening. It is well documented that many people attend their dentists more often than their GPs – and so by providing this service we aim to alert anyone who’s blood pressure reading is higher than expected so that they can get themselves checked out if needed. We have detected several cases of previously undiagnosed hypertension and this has reinforced how important this service is.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is generally a painless disease and if caught early the survival rates are much better than if it is detected later. It is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early, but one of the most disfiguring if surgery is required to remove an extensive lesion. All our hygienists, dental therapists and dentists are trained in oral cancer screening and we absolutely believe in providing this service at every dental health review.
What we look for are any red areas, or unusual white areas, or any skin changes of any kind. We also look for lumps and bumps that should not be there. We also have the technology available called Velscope which lets us see deeper into the skin. This means that very early lesions can be identified and an image captured so that a suspect lesion can be monitored or sent to an oral surgeon if a referral is appropriate.
Risk factors include smoking and alcohol consuming, but there is also a link to HPV (human papilloma virus) which can remain dormant in the human system for 20-30 years. This means that often the people who do develop this disease may have none of the obvious risk factors.
I recently discovered a lesion in my father-in-law’s tongue. This was not obvious to the naked eye and I would not have discovered it without the Velscope. The lesion has been removed and fortunately was completely benign but I was truly so grateful that we had invested in this technology. It is always very moving when patients tell us that they have lost a relative to oral cancer or have experience of this disease. Early detection is the key.
Periodontal (Gum and supporting bone) Screening
Sadly, we have detected one case of previously undiagnosed leukaemia which was picked up because Dr Halley urged a patient with inflamed gums to have a blood test. Whilst this is a devastating result, it indicates how important it is not to ignore bleeding gums, and to have them checked regularly by a professional. At least the condition was detected early before there were any other symptoms. Scotland has a high rate of cardiac disease compared to most other European countries. Gum disease is linked to heart disease as bleeding in the gums or pocketing allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and damage the heart and cardiac vessels.
If you know anyone who may be at risk from cardiac disease, friend or family – for goodness sake be sure they have been screened for any form of gum disease.
Periodontal disease is also linked to diabetes, and low birth-weight babies. We cannot stress enough how important management of this silent disease is.
Again, many diseases of the teeth are painless and can progress slowly without symptoms. Our screening includes regular low-radiation digital radiographs (x-rays) so that we can see under and in between as well as from the outside. We can also use tools such as laser light to detect hidden areas of tooth decay. Prevention programs are tailored for the individual.