While oral cancer is not a rare disease, it is particularly dangerous because it tends to go unnoticed. The potential for death is significantly reduced if cancer is detected early, making treatment easier, less invasive and more than 90% curable.
According to Dr. Per Rehnberg, CEO of Snö Dental clinic, oral health is important to overall health and regular checkups can help prevent oral cancer by helping detect it earlier than ever before. “The best way to manage and treat an oral cancer diagnosis is by combining early detection of the disease with timely treatment,” he says.
Dr. Per Rehnberg’s top tips that can help prevent oral cancer
Don’t use tobacco products
Smoking has been linked to many different types of cancer, including that of the head, neck and oral cavity. To greatly reduce your chance of developing oral or oropharyngeal cancer, stay away from tobacco in any form.
Maintain good oral hygiene
Brush and floss your teeth daily as bad oral hygiene is a known risk factor for oral cancer. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste is critical in removing bacteria that cause cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gum) and bad breath. Flossing is often forgotten, however, if you don’t floss, you will miss cleaning 35 percent of your tooth surfaces. Flossing in the evening will remove bacteria that like to feed on food particles throughout the day and also prevent bad breath.
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Regular self-oral examination
Examine your oral cavity (mouth) in good light once every month to look for non-healing ulcers, areas of bleeding, abnormal patches or any swellings, as these may be signs of cancer and early detection increases the chances of successful treatment.
Have regular professional screening
Scheduling six-month check-ups is a great way to keep a healthy mouth. Early detection and regular preventive examination are key to surviving oral cancer. Regular expert screening at a dental clinic can detect early warning signs, giving you your best chance at successful treatment. Make sure your clinic does this.
Protect yourself from sun exposure
Lip cancer is directly related to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and people who work outdoors and have prolonged exposure to the sun are more likely to develop lip cancer. To reduce this risk, you must try to limit your exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This does not mean you must avoid the sun altogether. Always wear a protective lip balm with SPF when you’re outside in the strong sun.
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Don’t ignore any ulcer/ bleeding/pain
If you spot any ulcers or bleeding that do not respond to treatment for over a month, please get it checked out as it could be something much more serious.
Proper diet and a healthy lifestyle
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and nuts with regular exercise is known to protect from oral cancer. Most of us have sedentary lifestyles and we must try and balance this by doing some form of regular exercise.
Cut out alcohol
Alcohol is known to be a big risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancer, particularly when used along with tobacco. It is advisable to limit your alcohol intake to a minimal level. Not only will this prove to be good for your liver and heart, but it also reduces your risk of oral cancer. The latest general recommendation says no more than 5 glasses of wine or 5 pints of beer per week.