Most people know that tobacco (both smoking and chewing) and heavy alcohol consumption are the leading causes of oral cancer. But there may be more that are less well-known.
Mouth Fittings That Don’t Fit
If your dentures, retainer, mouth guard, or anything else that was made to fit your mouth don’t fit, you’re putting yourself at risk for oral cancer due to the irritation your mouth may suffer.
Sugary Drinks And Food
Bad eating habits have been associated with oral cancer. Sorry, Big Mac lovers…this includes fast food. The sugar assists in tooth decay. When the bacteria that live inside your mouth meet sugar, a certain type of acid is created which attacks your teeth. This can lead to oral cancer, but you can help your body prevent this by sticking to dark green leafy vegetables, beans, grapes, antioxidant-rich green tea, tomatoes, berries. And don’t fry or grill them, either. Try boiling, baking, or steaming instead.
The HPV Virus (Possibly)
Although there isn’t enough evidence to 100% link HPV to oral cancer, many experts believe there is some connection. This may be because of the low immunity and open sores that HPV is known for, so it’s good to keep this possibility on your radar.
Sun damage is no joke. Repeated sun exposure has been linked to oral cancer, so it’s very wise to limit your exposure to the sun—especially in the middle of the day, when the light is the strongest. If you must be outdoors, protect your lips just as you would with any other part of your body. Apply lip balm that has protection against UV rays, and wear a hat with a brim.
Poor Oral Hygiene
This is a given, but bears repeating. When your mouth is unhealthy—meaning, dirty and at risk for bacteria—it reduces your immunity, which hurts your body’s chance of fighting off potential cancers. It is absolutely critical to brush and floss regularly. Bonus: this also helps ward off gingivitis, which can cause your teeth to fall out.
As mentioned above, when you’re immunity is low, it puts your entire body at risk for any kind of disease. This makes you more susceptible to infection, including oral infections—which can result in oral cancer. To keep your immunity up, it’s important to get plenty of rest, wash your hands regularly, eat well, consume antioxidants, exercise regularly, keep your blood pressure under control, maintain a good weight for your age and height. These things will help keep your immune system strong.
What Else You Should Know
- Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer as women
- Men over the age of 50 are at the highest risk for oral cancer
- Around 40,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with oral cancer each year
- 25% of oral cancer patients are non-drinkers and non-smokers
During regular dental checkups, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer exam. This is one of the many reasons it’s so important to visit your dentist regularly. If it’s been awhile for you, contact us at Infinite Dental Wellness. We do cancer screenings with every exam we perform. Remember: early prevention is crucial!