Oral cancer affects more than 43,000 Americans and causes fatalities in more than 8,000 Americans per year. There are certain risk factors associated with this type of cancer, just as there are with any other type. Some factors that put you at risk you are able to control, while others can be out of your reach. The most important way for you to prevent the risk of oral cancer occurring to you is to limit the risk factors which you can control. Simply changing your lifestyle can help to greatly decrease your risk.
Perhaps the most obvious risk factor is smoking. If you smoke any type of tobacco, you are greatly increasing your risk of oral cancer. This risk includes the less obvious causes, such as pipes and cigars. No matter what you smoke, your risk is increased and it continues to increase the more often and the length of time that you have this bad oral health habit.
Drinking alcohol is not often associated with oral cancer, but it is a contributing factor. If you are a heavy drinker and have been for a long period of time, your risk is greatly increased. The likelihood of contracting oral cancer also greatly increases if you are a chronic drinker and smoker – putting your oral health at great risk.
Protect yourself in the Sun
Sunblock is commonly worn on your skin, but do you consider your lips? This skin is also very vulnerable to the rays of the sun, putting you at risk for oral cancer. In order to protect yourself, wearing a sunblock that is made for your lips and/or face is essential. Because this area of your body is often neglected, cancer of the lips is very common.
Keep your Dental Appointments
One of the best ways to stay on top of your oral health is to keep your regular dental appointments. At your routine exams, the dentist will look for any suspicious signs of oral cancer and investigate further. By having this exam performed every 6 months, you can catch the cancer in its earliest form, giving you a better chance at a full recovery.
Oral cancer is nothing to take lightly. If you are worried about your risk factors or it runs in your family, talk to your dentist at your next appointment about what you can do to limit your chances of obtaining this deadly cancer.