Oral cancer is a problem. It’s the sixth most common type of cancer in the United States, and it’s on the rise. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, there will be about 54,000 new cases of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer in 2018. That’s why it’s essential to know how you can prevent it from happening. Here are five best practices to help keep you safe from oral cancer. But before anything else, you should know its nature.
What is Oral Cancer?
Any part of the mouth, including the lips, gums, tongue, and floor of the mouth, may be affected by oral cancer. It can also develop in the salivary glands. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often diagnosed late because it doesn’t usually cause symptoms in its early stages. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the risk factors and to see your dentist regularly for check-ups.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer
Several risk factors can increase your chance of developing oral cancer. These include:
- Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco products increases your risk of oral cancer. Tobacco use is the leading cause of oral cancer.
- Alcohol use: Drinking alcohol also increases your risk of oral cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk.
- HPV infection: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that can increase your risk of oral cancer and other types of cancer.
- Age: Oral cancer is most common in people over 55.
How to Prevent Oral Cancer
Now that you know the risks factors, here are five best practices that can help prevent oral cancer:
Gum disease is a severe infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two forms of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is characterized by inflammation of the gums. On the other hand, periodontitis is the more severe form of gum disease and is characterized by inflammation of the gums and bone loss. Many factors can contribute to gum disease, including tobacco use, poor oral hygiene, genetic disposition, certain medications, stress, and teeth grinding.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to replace any pockets in your teeth. Pockets left behind by teeth you’ve lost can be home to all sorts of bacteria; that’s why getting a teeth replacement procedure is necessary to keep your mouth healthy. The procedure can be done by your dentist or by an oral surgeon. It will ensure that your free is from infection and also oral cancer.
Avoid Chewing Tobacco
Smokeless tobacco products, such as chew, dip, snuff, and snus, are just as harmful as cigarettes. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokeless tobacco use can increase your risk of developing oral cancer by 50 times.
Chew is a type of tobacco that comes in a plug or twist. The dip is loose-leaf tobacco that’s placed between the lip and gum. Snuff is finely ground tobacco in dry, moist, or semi-moist form. Snus is a type of Swedish snuff that comes in pouches.
If you currently use any of these products, the best thing you can do is to stop. Quitting tobacco use is not easy, but it’s worth it. Many resources are available to help you quit, including counseling, nicotine replacement therapy, and prescription medications.
Use Protection When Having Sex
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause oral cancer. In fact, according to the CDC, HPV is responsible for about 70% of oropharyngeal cancers.
You can reduce your risk of HPV infection by using barrier methods of birth control, such as condoms and dental dams. You should also consider getting the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective and can help protect you from the virus.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk. If you consume alcohol, it’s critical to do so in moderation. For men, that means no more than two drinks a day. For women, it means no more than one drink a day.
If you’re trying to reduce your alcohol consumption, many resources are available to help you. These include counseling, support groups, and medications.
See Your Dentist Regularly
One of the best ways to prevent oral cancer is to see your dentist regularly for check-ups. During these appointments, your dentist will examine your mouth for any signs of oral cancer. They can also advise you on reducing your risk of developing the disease.
It’s essential to see your dentist even if you don’t have any teeth. They can still examine your mouth for oral cancer and give you tips on keeping it healthy.
These are five best practices that can help prevent oral cancer. Following these guidelines can reduce your risk of developing the disease.