Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with oral cancer. The good news is, as long as a dentist is able to catch it in time, it is very treatable. In fact, the death rate from this condition has significantly decreased over the last thirty years, and early diagnosis and prompt treatment have made this possible. It’s important not only to see your dentist regularly for screening, and your dentist can tell you what can put you at a higher level of risk or oral cancer in Scripps Ranch.
What Heightens the Risk of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer develops in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can happen on the tongue, gums, tonsils, or other parts of the mouth. While it is no respecter of persons, there are absolutely ways to decrease the possibility of its occurrence. Your dentist in Scripps Ranch has several different factors to share that have been known to increase the risk of oral cancer:
- The Use of Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes, pipes, and cigars are one of the most well-known causes of oral cancer. Plus, poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight off cancer cells. If you think you’re safe with smokeless tobacco products, think again! These are just as high up on the risk-factor chart. This is because of the chemicals that are included in them.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption: People who drink heavily are more likely to develop oral cancer. The acid and other components in alcohol can irritate and damage the cells in the mouth and throat. When these cells attempt to repair themselves, DNA alterations could lead to cancer. Because the use of tobacco often accompanies this, the risk is doubled.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this virus currently affects nearly 80 million Americans. While it is usually harmless and will resolve on its own, it can be sometimes be catalyst for multiple types of cancers, oral included. Cancers linked to HPV are typically located at the base of the tongue, back of the throat, or in the tonsils.
- Too Much Sun Exposure: Now more than ever, people are learning the importance of protecting their skin from cancer. Did you know that an excess of sun exposure on your lips is just as harmful and increases your risk of oral cancer? In addition to wearing sunblock on your body, make sure to protect your lips with a lip balm that contains SPF when you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time.
The older you get, the more important it is to pay attention to these factors and take good care of your mouth. Reduce your risk for oral cancer by having a good oral hygiene routine, limiting your sun exposure, avoiding tobacco, drinking in moderation, and seeing your dentist on a regular basis.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Friedman has been practicing dentistry for over thirty years. He is passionate about educating each of his patients on how they can stay healthy and reduce the risks of oral cancer. He consistently ensures that his team and practice are up-to-date on all of the latest dental technologies and opportunities. Take a step toward the safeguarding of your smile! Request an appointment online or call us at (858) 682-2394.