Folsom dentist offers free oral cancer check for Oral Cancer Month

By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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Know and Go

Who: George D. Chen, D.D.S.

What: Free oral cancer screening

When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday, April 12

Where: 785 Hana Way, Suite 103, Folsom

Appointments: (916) 983-6051 or go to

FOLSOM, CA - Each year approximately 42,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed. Approximately 8,000 people will die of the disease, a rate of one person per hour. One of the reasons the death rate is high, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, is that it is often discovered late in its course.

In recognition of April Oral Cancer Awareness month, George D. Chen, D.D.S., will be offering free oral cancer screenings at his office in Folsom, Esthetic Reflections in Dentistry, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday, April 12.

Dr. Jeannine El-Maasri, a new associate, will help perform the screenings.

El-Maasri came with her family to Southern California from Lebanon when she was 13 years old. She completed her dental schooling at Case School of Dental Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, with a post-graduate degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

After practicing for seven years in Rhode Island and Philadelphia, she returned to California with her husband, who is a urogynecologist at UC Davis.

Both El-Maasri and Chen have been associated with Seattle Study Club, a multidisciplinary group of dental-related professionals who together study some of the more complex dental and oral surgery cases.

El-Maasri contacted Chen’s office after she heard that he was looking for an associate, and Chen was impressed with her education and clinical skills.

“She is an excellent communicator, she’s very calm,” Chen said, “very concerned with the patients and interested in them.”

Patient Mysha Davies, 18, who will graduate from Oak Ridge High School this year, has been a patient of Chen’s since she was a toddler. She recently had her first appointment with El-Maasri, and agrees with Chen.

“She explained everything really well,” Davies said, “what was being done with my teeth. She was just really understanding.”

El-Maasri also thought highly of Chen’s credentials.

“Dr. Chen is an excellent practitioner, he has really good background and training,” El-Maasri said. “He is involved in similar types of continuing education courses . . . study groups and study clubs, that I like to attend.”

Chen has been practicing dentistry in Folsom for 22 years, and around 11 years ago moved into his present office at 785 Hana Way.

“I wanted this office to be very relaxing, a place where patients could come that they didn’t feel like they’re in a dental office,” Chen said. “Of course we have the nice little coffee bar out there – it has a nice smell, with the fresh cookies, and that kind of thing. So it doesn’t smell like your typical dental office.”

“After every appointment I always look for the cookies,” Davies said.

The office has its own lab, and a Cerec system which makes it unnecessary to take molds of the teeth. The system scans the teeth to make crowns and inlays digitally.

Chen also uses a Velscope, which is a special light scope, to reveal lesions such as cancers that may be embedded in the soft tissue and not visible to the naked eye.

“(Primary care doctors) are not as trained to look into the oral cavity as we are,” El-Maasri said. “Once a year every single patient needs to make sure that they get an oral cancer screening exam done.”

In spite of his busy schedule, Chen finds time to be involved in volunteer work with cancer victims and survivors.

“We use fly fishing as therapy for them, helping them cope,” Chen said. “It’s a national organization, so I get to use my passion for fly fishing to help healing and help patients get through that as well. It’s a nice combination that I really enjoy.”

Call 916-983-6051 or go to to make an appointment for a complimentary oral cancer screening on April 12.