It is estimated that this year alone, over fifty-four thousand people will be diagnosed with cancer. That’s no small number! Fortunately, it is very treatable as long as a dentist is able to catch it before it gets out of hand. Over the last three decades, early detection has helped to decrease the death rate significantly, which is one more reason why it is so important to see your dentist twice a year for routine checkups. Keep reading to learn about the different factors that can increase your risk of developing oral cancer and how you can avoid it.
What Can Increase Your Risk of Contracting Oral Cancer?
Whether it appears on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or other areas where you have soft tissues in your mouth, oral cancer is no respecter of persons. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to decrease the risk of developing it. So that you can be aware, here are some of the factors that have been directly linked to oral cancer:
- Tobacco Usage: It’s no secret nowadays that smoking is bad for you, but tobacco is very high up on the list of oral cancer causes. Cigarette smoke also contains certain poisons that can weaken the immune system, making it even harder for your body to fight off oral cancer. You might wonder if smokeless tobacco products have the same effect, and the truth is that they are just as harmful when it comes to your oral health. You’re better off avoiding it altogether.
- Excessive Consumption of Alcohol: Studies have shown that heavy drinkers are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Many alcohols have a high concentration of acid, which can be an irritant and damager of the throat and mouth cells. When the cells attempt to repair themselves naturally, the DNA can sometimes be altered, causing cancer of the mouth. When and if you do imbibe, make sure you clean your teeth and drink plenty of water afterward.
- The Human Papillomavirus (HPV): The Centers for Disease Control estimate that the HPV currently affects nearly eighty million U.S. citizens. This virus is typically harmless and will eventually resolve itself, however, in some cases it can cause different types of cancers, and oral cancer is one of them. Oral cancer linked to HPV is typically located in the back of the throat, at the base of the tongue, or on the tonsils. If you have the option, be sure to ask your primary care physician about a vaccine.
- Too Much Exposure to sunlight: Sunlight contains Vitamin D and does wonders for your mood, but have you ever heard the phrase, “too much of a good thing?” When you don’t properly care for your lips by putting sunblock on them while spending a lot of time out in the sun, you run the risk of developing cancer on them. Make sure to plan ahead, especially in the summertime, by using a lip balm that has a high SPF level.
As you age, it will become even more important to take good care of your teeth and mouth. Be sure to keep your risk of oral cancer low by doing everything you can to avoid the above catalysts and talk to your dentist about other ways to keep your smile in good shape.
About the Author
Dr. Raj Vekariya leads the team of dental experts at Center One Dental. He is well-versed in the causes of oral cancer, and it is extremely important to him to help his patients do whatever they can to avoid it. With years of training and education under his belt, he has the ability to provide the highest level of care. Is it time for your next dental appointment? You can request a date and time online or give us a call at (724) 300-3700.