April is Oral Cancer Awareness month. In recognition of the event, we want to share some helpful tips about how you can reduce your risk of developing a potentially devastating and deadly cancer.
Smoking and chewing tobacco increase your risk of oral cancer dramatically. In fact, tobacco use accounts for about 60 percent of oral cancers, showing just how risky it can be to your oral health.
By quitting, you can decrease your chances of developing the disease, as well as lower your risk for other conditions, including heart disease and lung cancer.
It’s also important to note that tobacco alternatives, like vapes or e-cigarettes, are not proven to be healthier, so making a switch may not prevent oral cancer.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Drinking heavily is another activity that makes you more likely to develop oral cancer. Alcohol can irritate your mouth, particularly if you have three to four drinks a day. By limiting yourself to one drink a day (if you are a woman) or two drinks (if you are a man) you can lower your risk.
Reduce Your Chances of Getting HPV
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses, some of which increase your odds of developing certain forms of cancer. The disease can live in your mouth and cause changes that lead to cancer, and many people don’t know they have it.
If you are eligible, consider the HPV vaccine. Otherwise, practicing safe sex can reduce your odds of catching HPV.
See Your Waco or Harker Heights Dentist
Approximately one in four people who are diagnosed with oral cancer have no real risk factors, and seeing your general dentist regularly is critical to making sure your mouth remains healthy. In order to spot changes in your mouth that may be a sign of oral cancer, you need to keep your twice-annual appointments with your Waco or Harker Heights dentist. That way, a professional team can monitor the condition of your mouth and take action if anything appears different.
Plus, by keeping your regular dental appointments, you increase the odds that, if you do develop oral cancer, it will be spotted early. This increases your chances of having a successful treatment and surviving what can be a deadly disease.
If you haven’t seen your Waco or Harker Heights dentist in the last six months, now is a great time to schedule an appointment. They will screen you for oral cancer while also giving your teeth and gums a thorough cleaning, ensuring your mouth stays healthy and your smile radiant.