Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can be a particularly devastating type of cancer because, even if the patient survives, the disease may result in visible disfigurement. While it might not be possible to cut your risk down to zero, there are several crucial steps you can take to significantly lower your risk of oral cancer. One of the first things you should do is talk to your dentist about your current oral health. Ask your dentist to perform an oral cancer screening. Detecting oral cancer early can help increase survival rates.
Avoid all tobacco products.
The biggest risk factor for oral cancer is the use of tobacco. Dentists strongly urge patients to avoid smoking and chewing tobacco. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start. If you do, give serious thought to quitting. It’s never easy to overcome an addiction, and you might not succeed the first one, two, or even dozen times you try. But keep trying, and with help from your doctor and your support network, you can finally kick the habit!
Protect yourself from sun exposure.
You probably already know that unprotected exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. But did you know the same effect can happen to your lips? Lip cancer is a type of oral cancer. Protect your pucker by applying lip balm with an SPF of at least 15. Apply it every day before you go outdoors, and keep it with you for easy reapplication.
Abstain or consume alcohol in moderation.
By itself, excessive alcohol intake can increase your risk of oral cancer. But when alcohol is combined with tobacco use, the risk is heightened far more than it would be with either of those risk factors alone. Abstaining from alcohol is an effective way to avoid raising your risk. But if you do want to drink, stick with a moderate amount. As a general rule of thumb, moderation equals no more than one drink daily for ladies and no more than two drinks daily for men.
John R. Carson, DDS will perform an oral cancer screening during your routine examination. Our dentistry office in Tucson provides comprehensive dental care within a compassionate, judgment-free environment. Call (520) 514-7203 to request your next appointment.