Your risk of contracting oral cancer is affected by several factors. Your age and genetic background may increase your chances, as could having certain viruses or infections. Some medications may also increase the likelihood of developing cancer because they weaken the immune system. However, oral cancer is both preventable and treatable. Below are several steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing oral cancer.
· Brush and floss your teeth: Making a routine of this will help to keep your mouth healthy.
· Do not use tobacco products: This includes smoking and chewing tobacco. The longer you use tobacco products, the more likely you are to develop oral cancer.
·Only drink alcohol in moderation: As with tobacco, continued use of alcohol can increase your chances of contracting oral cancer. Drink in moderation and avoid binges.
· Limit sun exposure and use sun protection: Your lips are susceptible to cancer. Make sure to take a stick of UV sunscreen lip balm with you if you are spending time in the sun. You should use one that is SPF 30 or higher.
· Exercise: Exercise helps to boost your immune system. This can help your body fight off cancers.
· Opt for cancer-fighting foods: Consuming healthy foods not only provides important nutrients for your body, but also helps improve your immune system and increase cancer-fighting cells.
Check in regularly with your dentist or oral hygienist: As with your overall health, regular dental check-ups can help you maintain a healthy and functional mouth.
Request oral screenings during your check-ups: These screenings can help to ensure anything that may be of concern is detected early.
Conduct a regular self-exam: Purchase a mouth mirror from your local pharmacy. Use it to help you check your mouth for any white, red or gray patches. Feel for lumps, bumps and any tender areas that may cause you discomfort. If you note anything, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a professional evaluation.
The health of your mouth affects your overall health. Oral cancer can compromise your immune system. Prevention is the first line of defense. Make sure you’re taking the time to perform Better Dental‘s recommended preventative care and behaviors to significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.