November Is Mouth Cancer Awareness Month
The dentists at Westermeier Martin Dental Care in Buffalo, New York, know that November is mouth cancer awareness month and along with that comes their desire to share some of the risk factors that could lead to mouth cancer.
During a dental examination with our dentists and dental hygienists, we will look for signs of oral cancer. This type of cancer, if caught early, has a high treatment success rate. There are risk factors we share with patients that could help them lower the risk of developing mouth cancer.
Mouth cancer can impact anyone, but is more closely associated with age and gender. More than 90% of all mouth cancer diagnoses are linked to lifestyle of the patient. Lifestyle means you could make changes to help reduce the chances of developing mouth cancer. Here are some of the risk factors that play significant roles in contracting mouth cancer.
Smoking and tobacco
The negative health impact of smoking is well-documented. Mouth cancer isn’t always listed as one of the risk factors faced by those who smoke or use other tobaccos. About two in three mouth cancer cases occur in those who use tobacco. When someone smokes, the inhaled smoke transforms saliva into a deadly mix that damages the cells in the mouth and has the potential to turn them cancerous. Smokers and those who use tobacco are three times more likely than a non-smoker to develop mouth cancer and more likely to develop throat cancer. Stopping smoking reduces the potential for developing mouth cancer.
Excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to be another major risk factor linked with mouth cancer; it’s been reported in about one third of diagnosed cases. The key, is “excessive” consumption. The occasional glass of wine, and drinking in moderation is key. The increased risk of mouth cancer for those who drink in excess is more than thirty times higher than in those who don’t drink to excess.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV can be transmitted through oral sex and medical professionals believe it will become the number one reason for mouth cancer within the next few decades. HPV is common and almost every sexually active person could contract HPV in their lifetime. Those with HPV may never develop symptoms or health problems and 90% of all HPV infections clear up by themselves. This infection, though, could lead to a variety of health issues that include abnormal tissue growth and other changes in the cells in your body that could lead to cancers, including mouth cancer.
More than half of all mouth cancers are related to poor diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will keep your body fit and healthy and can reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer. Eating non-starchy vegetables and fruits and foods containing carotenoids could reduce the risk of mouth cancer. People who eat the following foods are at lower risk of developing mouth cancer than those who don’t eat these foods:
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lower in starches, carbohydrates, sugars and carbonated drinks is healthy for both your mouth and your body.
Environmental, also known as second-hand, smoke is a probable cause of mouth cancer. Mouth cancer is a risk for those who have never smoked, but who are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home or workplace.
If you haven’t scheduled a dental examination and are concerned whether you could be at risk of developing oral cancer, call our office and schedule a dental check-up. We are a judgement-free, virtually pain free dental practice who understands the importance of regular dental check-ups and that’s why we offer sedation dentistry free of charge to patients who have a dental phobia.
Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care today to schedule a dental examination. If you are a new patient, we provide free dental examinations and x-rays.