Every year, Hendricks County residents are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer. Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. Unfortunately, about 25% of the people who are diagnosed with oral cancer don’t have any identifiable risk factors. That means they’re not tobacco users and/or heavy drinkers. Why is this a concern? Because up to half of oral cancers aren’t detected until the disease is advanced.
Oral Cancer Prevention Advice
Since oral cancer can be life threatening if it’s not diagnosed and treated early, prevention of the disease is important. Therefore, here are some things you can do to prevent oral cancer or detect it in its early stages:
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth as you should, tooth decay and/or gum disease can occur. An unhealthy mouth can compromise your immune system, hindering your body’s ability to fight off oral cancer.
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco products. If you currently use tobacco, quit. Tobacco is one of the leading causes of oral cancer.
- Drink alcohol in moderation (one to two drinks a day). Don’t binge drink. Excessive alcohol use can irritate the cells in your mouth, which can increase your risk of oral cancer.
- Stay out of the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun rays are at their strongest. Always use lip balm with an SPF 30 or higher.
- Avoid contracting human papilloma virus (HPV). Take extra precautions when choosing sexual partners. HPV is commonly transmitted through kissing, sharing drinks and some forms of sexual activity.
- Add cancer-fighting foods to your diet. Eat more beans, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage and broccoli), tomatoes, grapes, garlic, soy, flaxseed and green tea. Eat them raw, baked, boiled or steamed. Don’t fry or grill them.
- Examine your mouth at least once a month. Check all around the inside of your mouth, including the back and sides of your tongue. Use a mirror to look at hard-to-see areas. If you see or feel anything suspicious, such as a sore on your lips or in your mouth that doesn’t go away, white, red or gray patches, lumps, bumps, or tender areas, see Dr. Jon Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry, located in Hendricks County, right away.
- Schedule dental exams at Danville Family Dentistry twice a year. During your dental check-up, Dr. Erickson will examine your mouth, looking for any signs of oral cancer.
What You Can Do If You Don’t have Dental Insurance
Even if you don’t have dental insurance, you shouldn’t put off having an oral cancer exam. Many people who have oral cancer don’t even know it until the cancer has progressed. That’s why you need to be screened.
Danville Family Dentistry has an option to help you continue to have regular dental check-ups and oral cancer exams. It’s called our Smile Savings Plan. For a low annual fee, you can get a year’s worth of preventative dental care, including 2 professional oral exams, 2 professional cleanings and regularly scheduled X-rays.
For more information about our Smile Savings Plan and additional tips on preventing oral cancer, contact our Hendricks County office today at 317-745-4400. Good oral health is important because it reflects your overall health as well.