Who is the most qualified health professional to perform an oral health exam?
If you said your dentist you provided the most common and correct answer. While a medical doctor is qualified to do such an exam a dentist is more familiar with the anatomy of the mouth and is specifically trained to identify abnormalities in the mouth, including oral cancer. Therefore, an oral exam by a dentist is still the preferred approach.
According to the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, most oral cancers are essentially preventable and with early diagnosis and timely treatment have a good prognosis. The key element is early diagnosis! More than 90% of oral cancers occur in individuals older than 45 years.
According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in this country. Smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Men are twice as likely to be affected as women, with the average age at diagnosis of 60 years. American consumers are living longer and therefore oral exams should be performed by dental professionals and should be part of their overall health maintenance.