According to the, oral cancer will cause 9,750 deaths this year in the United States alone.
While oral cancer is treatable if caught early, unfortunately most patients do not discover the disease until it’s too late. It’s vital to have regular oral cancer screenings in order to detect any signs or symptoms of oral cancer as soon as possible. Between appointments, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of oral cancer. Here are 5 things our Wyoming, MI family dentist recommends for staying healthy.
Preventing Oral Cancer
1. Avoid tobacco.
Cigarettes are known to cause lung cancer, but did you know they’re one of the leading oral cancer causes 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 or snuff. If you haven’t already kicked your tobacco habit, this is a good time to start: 75% ofpatients 50 and older have been tobacco users.
2. Steer clear of alcohol.
When it comes to alcohol, the less you drink, the better.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.
3. Avoid the sun.
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.
4. Know your genetics.
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 Wyoming family dentist can advise you about reducing your risk long-term.
5. Get vaccinated.
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.
At your oral cancer screening, Dr. Helmus will look for visible abnormalities and probe the mouth to feel for anything unusual. It’s important to be honest with him about your lifestyle so he can work with you to prevent oral cancer.
While you can make lifestyle changes to avoid oral cancer, the only way to stay safe is to see our Wyoming, MI family dentist for regular oral cancer screenings. To schedule your appointment, call River Ridge Dentistry at (616) 538-7320.