Theestimates that about 54,010 Americans will get oral or throat cancer in 2021. But the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to lower your risk.
Here’s what our dentists recommend.
1. Quit Smoking
Cigarettes are a main cause of lung cancer, but did you know they’re also one of the leading causes of oral cancer? Even smoking the occasional cigar is enough to increase your risk. Tobacco in any form is dangerous, including chewing tobacco or snuff.
If you haven’t already kicked your tobacco habit, this is a good time to start. According to the, 75% of oral cancer patients 50 and older have been tobacco users.
2. Steer Clear of Alcohol
When it comes to alcohol, the less you drink, the better. Oral cancer is six times more likely to develop in drinkers than in non-drinkers. Studies have linked cirrhosis of the liver as well as dehydration that occurs when drinking to the formation of cancer cells.
3. Protect Yourself From UV Rays
Just as you would apply sunscreen before heading to the beach, you should be protecting your lips as well. Excess sun exposure around your mouth can lead to oral cancer.
Most types of sunscreen that you buy for your body aren’t optimized for use on the lips. To protect against oral cancer, opt for a lip balm with SPF. Make sure that you also re-apply throughout the day for the greatest protection.
It also helps to wear a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun off your face.
4. Know Your Family Medical History
If you have a family history of any type of cancer, you run a higher risk of developing oral cancer. But it’s important to remember that your genetics does not equal your destiny. Making mindful choices about your health can help lower your risk.
It’s a good idea to bring up your family history during your next dental checkup, as well. It’s in your best interest to give our team a complete view of your medical records so we know what to look out for. Our dentists can counsel you about reducing your risk long-term.
5. Get Vaccinated
Certain types of human papillomavirus, or HPV, can increase your risk of oral cancer. That’s one of the reasons why we have our patients fill out a detailed medical history form with us.
If you’re eligible, consider getting the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is unique because it’s the only vaccine that reduces your risk of cancer, not to mention HPV.
Request an Appointment With Us
During an oral cancer screening, your dentist will feel for any lumps or bumps. They’ll also look for any visible abnormalities, such as red or white patches inside the mouth.
Ready to request an appointment with one of our family dentists in Holland, MI? Call the Lakeshore Dentistry & Implant Center at (616) 399-3946. You may also fill out our online contact form and someone from our office will reach out to you soon.
This blog post has been updated.