Tips for Preventing Oral Cancer

brushing teeth

Most people go to the dentist for the same types of issues such as cavities, gum issues or to improve the look of their smile. These conditions can affect everyone and is about as serious as the dentist gets for most. Unfortunately, there are other serious conditions that can threaten your oral health. One of the biggest risks to your health that is centered around your mouth is oral cancer.

Oral cancer is an extremely serious condition that will affect about 50,000 people this year. This guide covers the basics of oral cancer and focuses on the risk factors for oral cancer along with tips on what you can do to make sure you’re taking care of your oral health. The best source of information on oral cancer will come from your dentist so call or go online to make an appointment to discuss your oral health.

The Basics of Oral Cancer

Cancer, in general, is defined as an unchecked growth in harmful cells that occurs in one or more parts of your body. There are many different types of cancers and people are at risk for various kinds depending on their history and genealogy. The most typical cancers are breast cancer for women, prostate cancer for men and skin or lung cancer.

Oral cancer specifically attacks the tissues of the mouth and jaw. It can manifest in multiple ways but has serious impact on your daily life. The biggest risk of oral cancer is the spread to your throat which can endanger your airways and cause death.

There are also common symptoms of oral cancer which can occur in any particular order. Consider if you have experienced any of the following:

  • Swelling or rough spots on the gums, tongue or inside of your mouth
  • White or speckled patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unexplained numbness
  • Persistent sores
  • Ear pain
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving your jaw

The Risks of Oral Cancer

There are multiple risk factors to oral cancer. Some are environmental and have to do with your diet. Others are based on your habits and general oral health. Finally, there is a genealogy component that has to do with your family history and any possible occurrences of cancer in your family.

Cancer has strong ties to DNA and genetics and therefore your family history is very important. Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer as women. If you have a history of cancer in your family, regardless of what kind of cancer it was, it increases your risk for cancer in the future. While cancers don’t directly correlate, as in “my dad had skin cancer so I will too,” they increase your risk in general.

Those who practice good oral health decrease their risk for cancer. If you don’t brush your teeth or floss enough, you leave a lot of harmful bacteria and other gunk in your mouth. While it is not a given that bacteria will lead to oral cancer, someone’s general oral health goes a long way towards their risk for oral cancer. Finally, those who practice good oral health habits can catch symptoms earlier because they’re looking. This is important because with most cancers, early discovery is a huge factor in survival rates. This is why it is crucial to develop good oral health habits even for kids. While kids are less likely to get oral cancer, good habits can last a lifetime.

With all that said, the biggest factor for oral cancer above all the rest is diet. Those who smoke or consume tobacco in any way are at the biggest risk for oral cancer. There is a demonstrable link between tobacco consumption and oral cancer rates. The second biggest factor is alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers are typically at much larger risk for oral cancer than those who limit their drinking. Those who smoke and drink heavily are the biggest at-risk group.

What Can I Do At Home?

While visiting your dentist regularly is crucial to oral health. You can take certain steps at home to increase your oral health and prevent major issues like oral cancer. The following tips can help your prevent oral cancer and go a long way towards increasing your health in general:

  • Eat more vegetables – Veggies not only help your teeth by reducing your intake of more harmful foods, they also give your body the nutrients to keep your immune system strong
  • Don’t use tobacco in any form
  • Limit sun exposure as UV rays can cause multiple cancers
  • Use lip balm with SPF

If you believe you are at risk for oral cancer or want to check on your oral health, contact us today to make an appointment. The dental professionals at Hassey Do Duy can help you understand the risks for oral cancer and evaluate your health appropriately.

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