How to Reduce Your Risk of Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Prevention Dentist Ann Arbor, MI

An oral cancer screening is part of every routine dental examination. Our Ann Arbor, MI dentists will check the mouth for signs and symptoms of oral cancer. The best way to prevent oral cancer, however, is to be proactive about reducing your risk factors between exams. Here are 5 lifestyle tips to follow for a clean bill of health.

1. Cut out tobacco.

Cigarettes are known to cause lung cancer, but did you know they’re one of the leading oral cancer causes as well? Even just smoking the occasional cigar is enough to increase your chances of developing oral cancer.

But non-smokers aren’t automatically in the clear. Tobacco in any form is dangerous, including chewing tobacco or snuff. If you haven’t already kicked your tobacco habit, this is a good time to start: 75% of oral cancer patients aged 50 and older have been tobacco users. 

2. Drink in moderation. 

When it comes to alcohol, the less you drink, the better. Oral cancer is six times more likely to develop in drinkers than in non-drinkers. Studies have linked cirrhosis of the liver, as well as dehydration that occurs when drinking, to the formation of oral cancer cells.

3. Avoid sun exposure.

Just as you would apply sunscreen before heading to the beach, you should be protecting your lips as well. Excess sun exposure around your mouth can lead to oral cancer. 

Most types of sunscreen that you buy for your body aren’t optimized for use on the lips. To protect against oral cancer, opt for a chapstick with SPF and reapply throughout the day for maximum protection. It also helps to wear a wide-brimmed hat that keeps the sun off your face. 

4. Learn your history.

If you have a family history of any type of cancer, you run a higher risk of developing oral cancer. While a family history certainly doesn’t guarantee that you’ll experience cancer firsthand, learning about your genetic predispositions can help you make mindful choices regarding your health. 

It’s a good idea to bring up your family history during your oral cancer screening, as well. Our Ann Arbor oral cancer screening dentists can advise you about reducing your risk long-term.

5. Get the HPV vaccine.

Certain types of human papillomavirus, or HPV, can increase your risk of oral cancer. If you’re eligible, consider getting the HPV vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus altogether, thereby reducing your chances of developing oral cancer.

At your oral cancer screening, we will look for visible abnormalities and probe the mouth to feel for anything unusual. It’s important to be honest with us about your lifestyle so we can work with you to prevent oral cancer. 

6. See Our Dentist Regularly

Even if you don’t have any of the risk factors for oral cancer, it’s still important that you see our dentist at least every 6 months for preventive dental care. That way, we’ll be able to perform an oral cancer screening and detect any abnormalities in their early stages. The earlier we’re able to detect cancer, the better your chance of survival.

READ MORE: The Benefits of Regular Dental Visits >>

Seeing our dentist regularly will also help you maintain better overall health. It’s important to understand that the body is made up of interconnected systems. 

Also, plenty of research has shown a connection between oral hygiene and other conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In other words, when you take care of your mouth you’re also taking care of the rest of your body!

Call Today! 

Although making educated lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, there is no guaranteed way to prevent the disease. That’s why regular checkups with our family dentists are so important. 

For oral cancer screenings in Ann Arbor, MI, you can count on Robert Stevenson DDS and Joey Farkash DDS. Fill out our contact form to request an appointment, or call us at (734) 201-1610.

This blog post has been updated.