If your lifestyle involves heavy drinking, smoking, or chewing tobacco you may be at greater risk for developing oral cancer. But it isn’t just smokers and drinkers who are at risk – people who use sunbeds on a regular basis and have a history of sunburns to the lips also fall in to a high risk group. If you are at risk of oral cancer, what you can do to lower the risk and protect yourself from this destructive disease?
Don’t Skip Dental Exams
We tend to assume that it’s medical doctors that find and diagnose cancer. In the case of oral cancer, it’s often a dentist who first notes suspicious tissue and refers the patient for a biopsy. Trained to diagnose abnormalities of oral tissue, your dentist is invariably the person who will discover diseases of the oral cavity, including cancer. Skipping a dental exam because you don’t think you have dental decay may be putting your overall health at risk, as during the exam your dentist is also performing an oral cancer screening. Next time you’re tempted to have a cleaning without an exam, keep in mind how beneficial an oral exam can be for your teeth and health as a whole.
Avoid Tobacco Products and Drink in Moderation
We’ve all experienced events in life that has led to too much celebrating. Excessive drinking can cause significant damage to the body, especially if it happens on a regular basis. Alcohol plays a huge role in the development of oral cancer and should be consumed in moderation by all, and even more so in people who are already at greater risk due to tobacco use. There really isn’t anything good to say about smoking: it’s expensive, causes bad breath, reduces lung capacity, and puts an individual at greater risk for certain cancers. Quitting smoking will not only contribute to better systemic health, it will dramatically lower your risk for oral cancer.
Maintain a Healthy, Balanced Life
Eating nutritionally dense food and cutting out processed snacks is a great way to keep your body in ideal health. Too much sugar can cause inflammation throughout the body – lowering a person’s immune system and making the body work extra hard to stay healthy. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and limiting your exposure to harmful UV rays will help reduce the risk of oral cancer and contribute to overall health.