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Am I at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Regular dental visits are an important part of your overall oral health because your dentist checks for signs of trouble. Your mouth and throat are susceptible to the cellular mutations that cause cancer, but oral cancer is usually easy to treat successfully when it’s found early. 

RR Dentistry in Georgetown Texas offers routine oral cancer screening as part of our patient services. Regular visits with our dentists provide an ideal opportunity to stay alert for early signs of potential cancer activity. 

Knowing your risk factors for oral cancer can make the process easier because it helps you and your care team be on the alert for abnormalities. Let’s take a look at the various factors that combine to create your level of oral cancer risk. 

What’s my risk for oral cancer? 

Risk factors for oral cancer divide into two general categories: preventable and nonpreventable. 

Factors like your age, gender, and family history can’t be prevented. You’ll continue to get older, increasing your risk for many cancers, and your genetics are set at birth. 

Certain inherited abnormalities could increase your chances of developing cancers in the mouth and throat. Men are more susceptible to oral cancer than women. 

Preventable risks are those about which you can make changes, such as quitting the use of alcohol and tobacco products. Let’s take a closer look at these because it may be possible to reduce your cancer risk. 

Tobacco use

Simply put, tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for oral cancers. Whether you smoke, vape, or chew, the use of products with nicotine is dangerous. Pipe smokers are at risk of cancers on the lips because the pipe stem is often in contact with the lips. 

The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the greater your cancer risk. Not only does tobacco use trigger cancerous mutations, but it also affects the way your body moves blood, slowing natural healing processes. 

Alcohol use

Alcohol can also boost your risk of mouth cancer, with heavy drinkers at a higher risk than light drinkers. People who both smoke and drink could boost their oral cancer risk as much as 30 times, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Exposure to sunlight

The ultraviolet (UV) components of sunlight are a common cause of skin cancer. The tissue of the lips can also suffer from UV exposure. If you spend plenty of time in the Texas sun, consider a lip balm with a high SPF as part of your sunscreen care. 

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

There are more than 150 strains of HPV. HPV16 is commonly linked to cancers of the pharynx, tongue, and tonsils. It’s not as common in cancers of the front of the mouth. There’s a link between oropharyngeal cancer and HPV in patients with multiple sexual partners and no history of alcohol or tobacco use. 

Obesity

A high body mass index (BMI) raises your overall cancer risk as well as oral cancers in particular. High BMI also places greater demands on the circulatory system, which can slow natural healing responses. 

When you know your oral cancer risk, the easiest way to stay on top of it is through regular oral cancer screenings with RR Dentistry. When was your last checkup? Book an appointment with us by phone or online today.

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