Oral cancer can be addressed with a number of treatment options and prognosis is often good if the condition is identified early. Unfortunately, many patients are unaware of the signs and risk factors and may not realize an oral cancer screening is an important component of biannual dental checkups. If you live in the Baltimore area, consider scheduling a professional dental cleaning at The Smile Design Center, especially if the following risk factors apply to you.
- Tobacco and Alcohol Use
Frequent smoking is associated with most cases of oral cancer. If you smoke or chew tobacco, reevaluate the health risks of your habit. Alcohol abuse is also associated with oral cancer. The combination of excessive smoking and tobacco use increases your chances of developing oral cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
According to the American Cancer Society, users of dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancers, especially of the gums and cheeks. Also, habitual drinkers are about six times more likely than nondrinkers to develop oral cancer.
Many recent studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now suggesting a link between certain strands of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer. Oral HPV infection, which is predominantly sexually transmitted, is significantly more common in men than in women. In general, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women.
- Sun Exposure
Oral cancer of the lip is commonly caused by increased sun exposure. The lips can develop oral cancer after regular and intense exposure to the sun’s UV light. Ask your dentist for a recommended lip balm that includes sunscreen.
If these risk factors apply to you, you are over the age of 45, or you have a family history of oral cancer, ask your dentist for a cancer screening right away. Scheduling regular teeth cleanings with the professionals at The Smile Design Center can increase your chances of identifying cancer early. Call us today at (443) 275-9821.