The Dentist Is In: Oral Cancer Awareness

There is a feeling that you get as a dentist, when you perform a dental exam and see a lesion like oral cancer. It is a painful feeling, that suddenly comes over you and there is a shift. Suddenly your intentions for this patient are no longer “when are we going to do the cleaning”, and “well this tooth needs a crown” and instead there is a sense of urgency. You realize you need back up. You need to get this patient to an oral surgeon, a periodontist, or an oral pathologist immediately.

Oral Cancer appears to be on the rise in America. While the incidence of other forms of oral cancer are leveling off or even dropping, oral cancer seems to be going the other way. However, awareness of oral cancer is also on the rise. This month is Oral Cancer Awareness month and I, for one, welcome the designation. Because as a general dentist, I am a doctor of the mouth, and cancer on my turf just will not do.

I am happy that there are all kinds of new technologies available to detect this cancer at its earliest form, like special cancer detection lights and early detection saliva tests. All kinds of great scientific minds are driving hard into what causes this cancer to form and ways to either prevent it, or at the very least, detect it.

There is a feeling you get as a dentist when you provide an amazing comprehensive examination for a patient. There is this feeling you get when you have used great technology backed by strong science and clinical evidence. When you detect something horrible like oral cancer, TREAT IT, and get the patient healthy. Those times when you have detected the enemy and stood face to face with something as cruel as oral cancer and you have prevailed. . .

That feeling — well, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.


About the Author:

Dr. Darbro currently practices at Glendora Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics.  He has been practicing dentistry since 1996. He is married and has three children. He enjoys playing music,  studying/teaching the Bible, and vacationing in Hawaii.  Connect with Dr. Darbro via

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About Dr. Matthew Darbro DDS

Dr. Matthew Darbro graduated from Indiana University School of Dentistry and has been practicing dentistry since 1996. He currently practices in Glendora Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics in Southern California. He has been leading CEREC® CAD/CAM study clubs for over two years in the Southern California area. He has been on the Citrus College Advisory Board for Dental Assisting and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor for Western University of Health Sciences. His passions include CEREC CAD/CAM, creating wellbeing in the dental field, and developing future dental leaders.