According to statistics from the Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with either oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. Oral cancer is a deadly form of cancer that kills about one individual every hour.
The good news is that there is a lot dental patients can do to lower their risks of being diagnosed with this devastating cancer. The following are all important things you can do to avoid oral cancer and maintain a healthy mouth:
- Learn how to conduct a self-exam- Just like with breast cancer, early detection is important for successfully treating cases of oral cancer. You can conduct your own self-exam to look out for some warning signs of oral cancer. When you are examine your mouth, you want to look out for any unusual lumps, bumps, tenderness, or discolored patches of skin that could indicate abnormal skin growth.
- See your dentist regularly- If you have regular checkups with your dentist at a clinic like Dentistry For the Entire Family, you can rest assured that any oral cancer developing in your mouth will be detected early. You can even request to have an oral cancer screening at your routine appointments if you want to feel extra sure. Regular appointments to the dentist's office will keep your mouth healthy and help protect against cancer risk factors.
- Protect your lips from sun exposure- You probably already know that it's important to protect your skin from the sun to avoid skin cancer. Sun exposure can also increase your chances for developing oral cancer by causing cancerous cells to develop on your lips. Use a lip balm with a SPF rating to avoid sun damage to the skin on your lips.
- Practice effective oral hygiene- As with any dental problem, oral cancer becomes more likely to develop if patients do not exercise proper oral hygiene. Keep your mouth clean by brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash every day.
- Eat foods that fight cancer- Eating healthy foods that nourish your immune system will help your body fight off cancer. In particular, look out for foods like grapes, blueberries, broccoli, and spinach that are known for their high antioxidant content.
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco- Smoking and using tobacco products increases patients' risks for developing many different health conditions. Oral cancer in particular is more likely to develop in the mouths of patients who smoke, so stop smoking and/or chewing tobacco as soon as possible if you want to minimize your risks.