Cleanings & Prevention

About Oral Cancer

Most people are surprised to learn that one American dies every hour from oral cancer; a death rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 40 years. In fact, recent statistics published by the American Cancer Society indicate that while the incidence and death rates for cancers overall has decreased, the incidence of oral cancer has increased by 5.5% and the death rate has increased by 1.5%

Oral cancer is far too often discovered in late stage development, the primary reason for the consistently high death rate. Oral cancer treatment often results in disfiguring effects on patients, and can seriously compromise their quality of life. Early detection and diagnosis can make a tremendous difference in life expectancy; oral cancer is 90% curable when found in its early stages. Unfortunately, 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages, III and IV, leading to a five-year survival rate of 57%.

The Deadly Statistics

  • Every hour of every day, one American dies of oral cancer.
  • The mortality rate associated with oral cancer has not improved significantly in the last 40 years.
  • The death rate in the United States for oral cancer is higher than that of cervical cancer, Hodgkin's disease, cancer of the brain, liver, testes, kidney, or ovary.
  • More than 30,000 Americans will receive an oral cancer diagnosis this year. In five years, only 57% will still be alive.
  • 27% of oral cancer victims do not use tobacco or alcohol and have no other lifestyle risk factors.


ViziLite Plus as part of a comprehensive oral screening

Oral cancer is one of the most curable diseases when it's caught early. At Hammond Pond Dental Associates, a visual oral cancer screening is done on all patients at the comprehensive exam visit and at all subsequent periodic exam visits.  However, the dentist may decide that it is necessary to further assess some areas in the mouth that are suspicious, but may not be completely visible to the naked eye. That's why the ViziLite Plus exam has been developed.  ViziLite Plus uses technology that has proven successful in identifying soft tissue abnormalities in other areas of the body.  A ViziLite Plus exam is particularly important if you are at increased risk for developing oral cancer.

Oral cancer risk by patient profile is listed below:


Increased Risk:

    Patients age 18-39 with no lifestyle risk factors

High Risk:

    Patients age 40 and older with no lifestyle risk factors
    OR Patients age 18-39 with lifestyle risk factors

Highest Risk:

    Patients age 40 and older with lifestyle risk factors or patients with a history of oral cancer

      Risk Factors:

        Lifestyle risk factors for oral cancer include:

      • Tobacco use (any type, any age, within 10 years)
      • Alcohol consumption of at least 1 drink per day (3 ounces of hard liquor, 4 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer) 

        Other risk factors:

      • Immune deficiencies such as HIV & AIDS
      • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV 16/18)


The ViziLite Plus exam can help your dentist or hygienist identify abnormal tissue, that might develop into oral cancer.

An annual ViziLite Plus exam, in combination with a regular visual examination, provides a comprehensive oral screening procedure for patients at increased risk for oral cancer. The ViziLite Plus exam is painless and fast, and could help save your life.

ViziLite Plus is performed immediately following a regular visual examination

  • First, you will be instructed to rinse with a cleansing solution
  • Next, the overhead lighting will be dimmed.
  • Then, your dental professional will examine your mouth using ViziLite Plus, a specially designed light technology.


Is ViziLite Covered by Insurance?

Dental Insurance

The American Dental Association has established a dental insurance procedure code that applies to the ViziLite Plus exam. This code is the CDT-5 D0431 code.  Be sure to verify that your dentist has submitted a claim for this specific procedure and code.  Your dental plan may cover this procedure and both you and your dentist may not be aware of it. 

Medical Insurance

Your medical insurance company may also cover the ViziLite Plus exam.  There are medical insurance codes that have also been used to obtain insurance reimbursement for the ViziLite Plus exam.  These codes are CPT code 82397 for "chemiluminescent assay" and ICD-9 code, V76.42, which refers to a “special screening for malignant neoplasms, oral cavity”.  Either you or your dentist can submit medical claims to your medical insurance company.  Your medical insurance company can provide you with a claim form.

MSA/HSA Option

Medical Spending Accounts or MSAs, if offered by your employer, are an excellent option to use for reimbursement of your ViziLite Plus examination. Healthcare Savings Accounts, HSAs, can also be an option for reimbursement of your annual ViziLite Plus exam. In any case, be sure to get documentation of the ViziLite Plus exam from your dental office and submit a copy of this, along with your receipt, for reimbursement.


Note:  Some of the content on this page is from the ViziLite Plus web site.  For more information on this innovative oral cancer screening tool, please visit: