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Oral Cancer: Are You at Risk?

April 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — smilesforlifeteam @ 1:34 pm
young woman in thought

Over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. It’s a disease that develops in the tissues of the mouth or throat. Even though the death rate has decreased within the past 30 years, prompt treatment and early diagnosis can significantly improve your chances of survival. Do you know what your chances are of developing oral cancer? Read on to learn which factors increase your risk and how you can protect yourself.

What Are the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer?

Every case is unique, meaning the signs and symptoms of oral cancer can vary from person to person. However, the hallmark signs include mouth sores and pain that doesn’t go away.

A few other common symptoms include:

  • Swelling in your neck
  • A lump in your cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Feeling like something is caught in your throat
  • Trouble moving your jaw or tongue
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent bad breath

Which Factors Increase Your Risk of Oral Cancer?

Although researchers aren’t too sure what causes oral cancer, there are factors known to increase your risk of developing it, such as:

  • Tobacco use. Smoking and using tobacco products are the most well-known risks of oral cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer. Those who use tobacco along with alcohol are at a much higher risk.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Most cancers that are linked to HPV are found at the back of the throat, the base of the tongue, and in the tonsils.
  • Sun exposure. An excess amount of sun exposure on your lips can increase your risk of oral cancer.

How to Minimize Your Risks

The good news is that oral cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer! One of the best ways to lower your chances of developing it is by never smoking or quitting if you currently do it.

Some other ways to minimize your risk include:

  • Limiting your sun exposure and wearing SPF lip balm
  • Eating a balanced, well-rounded diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Removing your dentures every night and cleaning them daily
  • Practicing good oral hygiene (i.e., brushing twice a day, flossing daily, rinsing every day with an ADA-approved mouthwash)

It’s sadly impossible to prevent oral cancer entirely. However, taking the steps outlined above can help lower your chances of a diagnosis. Don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly as well to catch any signs as early as possible!

About the Author

Dr. James Gray has over three decades of dentistry experience under his belt. He is a proud graduate of the University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio and has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas. If you’d like to learn more about lowering your risk of oral cancer, visit Dr. Gray’s website or call (817) 460-4131.

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