How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 53,000 people in the U.S. will get oral and throat cancer this year. This is why it’s more important than ever that you don’t skip your next oral cancer screening. You should also take steps to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer later in life.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

CUT OUT TOBACCO

Cigarettes are known to cause lung cancer. But did you know they’re one of the leading causes of oral cancer as well? Even just smoking the occasional cigar is enough to increase your chances of developing oral cancer.

But non-smokers aren’t automatically in the clear. Tobacco in any form is dangerous, including chewing tobacco. If you haven’t already kicked your tobacco habit, this is a good time to start: 75% of oral cancer patients age 50 and older have been tobacco users.

DRINK IN MODERATION 

When it comes to alcohol, the less you drink, the better. Oral cancer is six times more likely to develop in drinkers than in non-drinkers. Studies have linked cirrhosis of the liver, as well as dehydration that occurs when drinking, to the formation of oral cancer cells.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM UV RAYS

Just as you would apply sunscreen before heading to the beach, you should be protecting your lips as well. Excess sun exposure around your mouth can lead to oral cancer.

Most types of sunscreen that you buy for your body aren’t optimized for use on the lips. To protect against oral cancer, opt for a chapstick with SPF and reapply throughout the day for maximum protection. It also helps to wear a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun off your face.

LEARN YOUR FAMILY’S MEDICAL HISTORY

If you have a family history of any type of cancer, you run a higher risk of developing oral cancer. While a family history certainly doesn’t guarantee that you’ll experience cancer firsthand, learning about your genetic predispositions can help you make mindful choices regarding your health.

It’s a good idea to bring up your family history during your oral cancer screening, as well. Our dentist can advise you about reducing your risk in the long term.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT THE HPV VACCINE

Certain types of human papillomavirus, or HPV, can increase your risk of oral cancer. If you’re eligible, consider getting the HPV vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus altogether, thereby reducing your chances of developing oral cancer.

SCHEDULE AN ORAL CANCER SCREENING

Getting your routine screening won’t prevent cancer. But it will allow our dentist to detect oral cancer in its early stages, giving you the best chance of survival. During your oral cancer screening, we’ll be able to detect abnormalities inside the mouth that could indicate cancer.

Treating oral cancer early will help give you the best chance of survival. To learn more, check out our blog post on why you need oral cancer screenings.

CALL DR. TAYLOR’S FAMILY DENTAL CENTER

Our dentist in Waterford, MI, can help you better understand your risk factors for oral cancer during your next appointment. To request an oral cancer screening, call Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center at (248) 681-8100.

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