A repeat patient for a reason

Dental hygiene exam at School of Dentistry patient clinic revealed tumour

Cheryl Deslaurier - 10 April 2013

Robert Gilmour is a repeat patient at the U of A School of Dentistry's dental clinics, and not just because of the money he saves.

When Gilmour took early retirement in 2003 he was left with no dental coverage. So he contacted the U of A School of Dentistry to book an appointment through the School's patient clinics which offer dental care in a teaching setting at reduced prices.

In 2005, Gilmour had his very first dental hygiene appointment at the U of A school. During the extraoral exam, the student and dental hygiene instructor found something none of them were expecting: a lump in his neck. They recommended Gilmour see his doctor, which he did, thinking it would only be a precautionary measure. An ultrasound revealed he had a carotid tumour.

Three weeks after diagnosis Gilmour was on the operating table. Two surgeons worked for three hours to remove the tumour. Thankfully, it was not cancerous, but would have carried severe health risks if left too long without proper attention.

One of the surgeons later wrote to the Director of the U of A Dental Hygiene Program to recognize the thorough work of the instructor and student in discovering the tumour - a discovery that may have saved this man's life.

For years now, extra and intraoral examinations have been part of a course taught to dental hygiene students at the U of A. A complete head and neck and intraoral examination is important not only for the early detection of cancer and other abnormalities, but also for a comprehensive assessment of the patient prior to providing dental treatment.

To this day, Gilmour is a regular patient of the School's dental clinics at the U of A. "I don't just come here because of the money I save," says Gilmour. "I come here because of the quality of care I receive."