When you have a dental examination in Lake Stevens, WA, one of the things your dentist will do is look for signs of oral cancer. Although anyone can get oral cancer, some people have risk factors that increase their chances of developing it. At your dental check-up, talk to your dentist about your risk factors and the things you can do to reduce your chances of getting oral cancer. Here is a look at some of the things that could impact your oral cancer risk.
Using tobacco products is the biggest risk factor for oral cancer. Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco all increase the risk. Pipe smoking is closely linked to cancers of the lips while chewing tobacco users are more prone to getting cancer on the insides of their cheeks, gums, and the inner part of the lips. Heavy alcohol consumption while using tobacco products increases the risk of cancer even more. It isn’t just tobacco users who have an increased risk of oral cancer. Regular exposure to secondhand smoke also boosts your cancer risk.
Excessive sun exposure can lead to oral cancer on the lips. You can reduce this chance by wearing a lip balm that contains sun protection daily and reapplying it every two hours when you are out in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Wearing a brimmed hat will also help to protect your lips from the sun’s rays.
HPV, or human papillomavirus, has more than 100 different strains, some of which are linked to an increase in oral cancer. HPV is passed on through sexual contact, including oral sex, and typically causes oral cancers on the tonsil and around the base of the tongue. You can reduce your risk of HPV infection by limiting your number of sexual partners. Preteens may also benefit from the HPV vaccine. If you have been diagnosed with HPV in the past, make sure your dentist knows, so that he or she can be alert to the signs of a problem.