Today, more than 130 people will find out they have it. Sadly, one person will die on average every hour because of it.
“It” is oral cancer, and more than 53,000 people will be diagnosed with this disease this year, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation.
As part of our general dentistry in Hilliard and Westerville, OH, we want to help you avoid this potentially deadly disease. Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we are sharing three things you can do to fight back against this potentially deadly disease.
1. Avoid Tobacco
This may be the single most important thing you can do reduce your risk of oral cancer.
According to health experts, tobacco use is a contributing factor in between 75 and 90 percent of new oral cancer cases, the foundation reports. In other words (at a minimum), 3 out of every 4 oral cancer cases have a connection to tobacco.
It doesn’t matter whether someone uses cigarettes, cigars, or any kind of smokeless tobacco. All of these products contain cancer-causing chemicals. When you are putting them in your mouth over and over again, you are exposing the soft tissues to those chemicals. It won’t surprise you to know that the longevity (number of years) and frequency (number of times per day) that someone has used tobacco affects their risk as well.
If you are a tobacco user, quitting can be one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of oral cancer. Doing this on your own can be difficult. For help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn about tobacco cessation programs from the Ohio Department of Health.
2. Limit Or Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is the second-leading cause of oral cancer in the United States. Now, that doesn’t mean you are going to get oral cancer if you have a drink every now and then. How much and when you consume alcohol can make a difference in your oral cancer risk, however.
Statistically, heavy drinkers are known to have an increased risk of this disease. The foundation defined “heavy” drinking as consuming 21 or more alcoholic drinks per week.
Even if someone is not a heavy drinker, they may be putting themselves at risk if they drink and use tobacco socially. Alcohol can lead to dehydration. When the soft tissues of your mouth are dry, they will absorb the chemicals in tobacco products more quickly.
3. Get Dental Checkups
Regular dental cleanings and exams aren’t going to stop you from getting oral cancer. However, they can play an invaluable role in detection.
We perform oral cancer screenings as part of your dental checkups at Just Smiles. We don’t want to find anything, but we also want you to know as soon as possible if there is something suspicious in your mouth.
When treated in the late stages, oral cancer patients have a five-year survival rate of 57 percent. When oral cancer is treated in the early stages, that survival rate rises to between 80 and 90 percent.
If you haven’t scheduled your next dental appointment, make plans to visit us soon. Call our Hilliard, OH location at 614-215-9089 or our Westerville, OH location at 614-215-9087 or contact us online for an appointment at Just Smiles!