Oral cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the mouth or throat. It can affect anyone, but there are ways you can reduce your risk. These include maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, protecting yourself from the sun, eating a healthy diet, and seeing your dentist regularly.
Here are eight ways you can take action to prevent oral cancer.
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1. Keep Your Mouth Clean and Healthy
According to dental professionals, getting your teeth checked and cleaned every six months is essential. Regular visits to the dentist help in finding any signs of oral cancer early, when it can be more easily treated.
You should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. This not only keeps your teeth and gums healthy but can also reduce your risk of oral cancer.
2. Avoid Tobacco Products
According to various health studies, tobacco products such as cigars, pipes, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco are major risk factors for oral cancer. In other words, if you’re a smoker, quitting can be one of the most powerful things you do to prevent oral cancer. If you’re not a smoker, it’s wise to avoid tobacco products altogether.
Tips to Quit Smoking:
- Seek support from friends, family, or a support group.
- Try nicotine replacement therapy or consult a doctor for professional help.
3. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol, especially in combination with tobacco, can put you at higher risk for oral cancer. Reducing your alcohol intake can be an important step in lowering your risk.
4. Protect Yourself from the Sun
Believe it or not, your lips can get sunburned too! Using a lip balm with SPF or wearing a wide-brimmed hat can protect your lips from harmful UV rays. This simple step can help prevent cancer cells from forming on your lips.
5. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of oral cancer. These foods are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support your body’s defense against diseases.
6. Check Your Mouth Regularly
You know your mouth better than anyone else. Look for any changes like sores, lumps, or discolorations, and if you see anything unusual, talk to your dentist or doctor right away.
In fact, knowing the signs of oral cancer can help you detect it early. If you notice any of the following, consult your healthcare provider:
- Sores, lumps, or rough areas in your mouth.
- Pain, numbness, or tenderness in your mouth or lips.
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving your jaw.
7. Be Aware of HPV
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can cause oral cancer. You can talk to your doctor about vaccines and other ways to protect yourself from HPV. Taking this precaution can be a powerful tool in preventing oral cancer.
8. Practice Safe Sex
HPV, which we just talked about, can be spread through sexual contact. Practicing safe sex by using protection can reduce your risk of getting HPV and, in turn, oral cancer. This is another simple but important way to keep your mouth healthy.
Oral cancer can be a scary thought, but with these seven steps, you can take control of your health. From quitting smoking to eating right and protecting your lips from the sun, you have the power to make choices that will keep your mouth happy and cancer-free. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a dentist if you need it, and always keep an eye on your health. You’ve got this!