Oral cancer is a serious disease that affects many people across the globe, particularly cigarette smokers and people with a family history of cancer. Though there is a genetic factor involved, there are several things you can do to prevent the development of oral cancer, which we will outline in this blog post. Continue reading to find out, and be sure to contact our team at Trillium Dental in Ottawa if anything feels abnormal in your mouth or throat. We gladly perform oral cancer screenings as part of our dental exams.
QUIT SMOKING (OR DON’T START)
Tobacco is one of the largest causes of oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and other cancers of the head, throat, and neck — not to mention lung cancer. This is because today’s tobacco products, such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vape juice, contain carcinogenic chemicals that are linked to the growth of cancer cells. Specifically, these chemicals can cause grayish-white mouth ulcers to develop, which are called leukoplakia.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, these ulcers and mouth sores can become cancerous, requiring oral surgery and/or radiation to remove. And that’s not to say that it won’t come back. That being said, one of the easiest ways to prevent oral cancer from developing is to stay away from tobacco products — yes, even those “harmless” vapes.
Alcohol is another major contributor to oral cancer, as well as esophageal cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, and the list goes on. However, your risk of developing cancer as a direct cause of alcohol consumption depends on how much, and how frequently, you drink. Scientifically speaking, alcohol alters the body’s chemistry over time, impairing the body from being able to defend itself against the spread of cancer cells.
To avoid developing cancer, not to mention an addiction, our dentists recommend having less than three drinks per day, if any at all. Overexposure to alcoholic beverages can take a toll on the tissues in your mouth, throat, stomach, and other vital organs, rendering them diseased and defenseless. As with tobacco, it’s best to quit binge drinking and limit yourself to the occasional drink if you’re looking to minimize your risk of oral cancer.
GET AN HPV VACCINATION
Other diseases, like human papillomavirus (HPV), can increase your chances of developing oral cancer — particularly oropharyngeal cancers. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, and many people have it in their mouth without even being aware of it. There is no cure for HPV; however, you may be able to avoid contracting it by getting vaccinated before you become sexually active. Most doctors recommend getting vaccinated between the ages of 11 and their mid-20s.
MAKE REGULAR TRIPS TO YOUR LOCAL DENTAL CLINIC
Prevention is the key to avoiding serious diseases like oral cancer and periodontal disease, which are life-threatening health conditions that can in part be prevented with good oral hygiene and regular trips to your family dental clinic. At Trillium Dental in Ottawa, we recommend that patients brush their teeth twice per day and floss daily, in addition to visiting our dental office twice per year for dental checkups. Contact us today to book your next appointment!