Is it possible to prevent oral cancer from affecting your health and your life? Cancer prevention strategies can indeed lower your risk of developing certain diseases — oral cancer included — but it requires a dedicated daily approach.
Almost 50,000 adults in the U.S. will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. While you can’t control genetic factors that contribute to your risk profile, you can proactively defend your oral health in six key ways.
1. Brush, Floss, Rinse!
Tooth decay and gum disease affect whole-body health. Bad dental health translates to a compromised immune system, which affects your body’s ability to fight off cancer. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day and rinse with fluoride to remove bacteria, defend against plaque and keep your mouth healthy.
2. Wear Lip Balm with UV-Ray Protection
It’s easy to remember to put sunscreen on your face, but what about your lips? Get lip balm with UV-ray protection and apply it regularly, especially if you spend a significant amount of time outdoors in the sunshine. You’ll reduce your risk of cancer of the lips, plus you will keep them moist.
3. Raise Your Heart Rate
It’s no secret that regular exercise is good for your health. Maintain an active lifestyle and raise your heart rate for at least 30 minutes per day. Run, walk, bike or swim — you pick the activity! You will power your immune system and help keep cancer at bay.
4. Eat Right
Watch what you eat. You need a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains and protein. Substitute fish and chicken for processed or red meat. Avoid refined food products and watch how you prepare foods as well: bake or steam instead of frying or grilling.
5. Conduct a Monthly Self-Check
Take time each month to take a close look inside your mouth. Check the inside of your lips and cheeks and all areas of your tongue for a normal pink color. If there are unusual red or white patches, don’t wait — schedule an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon right away.
6. Visit Your Dentist
Stay on top of a regular dental hygiene schedule. You need to visit your dentist once every six months for cleanings and exams. It’s an essential part of both preventing and spotting oral cancer before it escalates. Your dentist knows what to look for, and they also know how to give you tips to live better and improve your dental and whole-body health.
It’s Not Always What You Do — Sometimes it’s What You Don’t Do
Don’t drink alcohol or smoke tobacco — those are the top two ways to prevent oral cancer. People who drink and smoke excessively increase their oral cancer risk 30 times over. Call Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today if you notice problematic lesions or patches in your mouth — we offer consultations for patients at risk of oral cancer.