JOPLIN, Mo. — A routine cleaning last fall at Missouri Southern’s Dental Hygiene Clinic led to quite the discovery by a dental hygiene student.

Senior Emily Valence was actually examining her future father-in-law, when she noticed a whitish area under his tongue.

Mike Eddings, who lives in Ozark, has never smoked or chewed tobacco — so what was found came as a shock. He eventually saw a specialist who determined it was a pre-malignant cancerous lesion.

“Very relieving. When they find something like pre-cancerous like that, it is best to get it removed as fast as possible, because normally oral cancer is a very fast-spreading cancer, so who knows how long, you know, it could’ve been until it was spreading to farther stages?” said Valence.

“That is just an example of the program working and the education working and them actually absorbing it. And these are our hygienists of the future. They are who is going to be taking care of us 10, 20, 30 years from now,” said Dr. Dennis Abbott, MSSU Adjunct Clinical Supervising Dentist.

Valence will graduate in May.

Her future father-in-law is doing just fine.