14 Nov Oral Cancer Prevention: How to Reduce Your Risk
Oral cancers are extremely common, especially among older adults. The American Cancer Society predicts that over 54,000 people will be diagnosed with some type of oral cancer in 2023. Although oral cancer is not always preventable, many of the most significant risk factors come from lifestyle choices. Making a few changes can significantly reduce your risk. Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent oral cancer and maintain a healthy smile.
Six Oral Cancer Prevention Tips
1: Avoid Tobacco
One of the highest risks for oral cancer is tobacco use. Smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco can all lead to oral cancer and other serious consequences, such as gum disease and tooth loss. If you’ve never used tobacco, don’t start. But even if you’ve been smoking or using other tobacco products for years, quitting now can significantly lower your risk and improve your overall health.
2: Avoid or Limit Alcohol
Frequent alcohol consumption can also lead to oral cancer, especially when combined with tobacco use. Heavy alcohol use also leads to enamel erosion, dry mouth, and other dental issues. To protect your oral health, it’s best to drink in moderation or avoid alcohol completely.
3: Limit UV Exposure
It’s fairly common knowledge that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to skin cancer. But did you know that it also increases your risk of oral cancer? This is because your lips can also be affected by too much sunlight. To reduce your risk, limit your time outdoors when possible, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. When you do go outside, apply lip balm with an SPF factor of at least 30, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
4: Get the HPV Vaccine
According to the CDC, around 80 million people in the United States are currently infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus has been linked with various oral cancers, including cancers of the tongue and throat. Getting vaccinated can reduce your risk of these types of cancer.
5: Eat a Healthy Diet
Poor diet is another changeable risk factor. Proper nutrition not only helps reduce your oral cancer risk, but helps promote good overall oral health as well. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid sugary and processed foods as much as possible.
6: Visit the Dentist Regularly
Dentists are trained to screen their patients for oral cancer as well as dental diseases, and they’re often the first to spot the warning signs. An early diagnosis gives you your best chance at successful treatment. Dental checkups are even more important the older you get, as oral cancer is most common in seniors—the average age of diagnosis is 64 years old.
Dental Cleanings and Checkups in Sun Lakes
Maintaining good oral hygiene also helps reduce your risk of oral cancer. Research has shown that gum disease, which is caused by bacteria buildup, is linked to a higher risk of throat cancer.
If you’re due for a checkup or have any concerns about your dental health, contact Dr. Saba and Associates in Sun Lakes. We’ll help you keep your mouth healthy so you can show off your beautiful smile. Give us a call at 480-895-2111 today to make an appointment.