Go Heavy on Fruits and Veggies: A lack of nutrients can lead to changes in your mouth that make cancer more likely. But vitamins and antioxidants in fruits and veggies rev up your immune system, and that helps protect you. So get at least 5 servings of them a day and mix them up for plenty of variety. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, and squash are especially good for your mouth.
To get the most bang for your fruit-and-veggie buck, don’t cook all the cancer-fighting goodness out of them. Enjoy some of them raw to get the full effect. When you do cook them, stop when they get tender and still have some life in them. Also, cooking oils can form cancer-causing substances at high heat. So instead of frying, it’s a better idea to bake, boil, broil, or steam your food.
Use Sun Protection
Too much time in the sun doesn’t just raise your chances of skin cancer, it’s also a problem for your lips. If you can, stay out of direct sunlight in the middle of the day — that’s when it’s strongest. When you do go out, wear a hat with a wide brim that shades your whole face. Use a lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, and put it on often. And stay away from tanning beds.
Cut Down on Alcohol
Heavy drinking over the years irritates your mouth in ways that can set you up for oral cancer. You’re twice as likely to get it if you have 3 to 4 drinks a day. And your odds skyrocket if you both smoke and drink heavily. So if you do drink, keep it in check with just one a day for women or two for men.
Lower Your Risk of HPV
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of very common viruses. You can have it in your mouth and not know it. That’s because most of the time, it doesn’t cause any issues. But in some people, it can lead to changes that cause cancer. There’s a vaccine for HPV, but it works best if you get it before you’re sexually active. If you already are, you can protect yourself by limiting your number of partners and practicing safe sex.
Keep Up With Dentist Visits
Dentists don’t just polish your teeth, fill cavities, and get on your case about flossing. They check everything from the bottom of your tongue to the inside of your cheeks for growths that might lead to cancer. They’re on the front lines to catch any problems early on, which can make things easier to treat. See your dentist at least once a year.
Give Your Mouth a Monthly Check
Between dental visits, it’s up to you to keep an eye on things. Once a month, get in front of a mirror and open up wide. Look for ulcers or unusual red or white patches that stick around for 3 weeks or longer.
Check the roof and floor of your mouth, your tongue, your gums, and the inside of your cheeks and lips. If you find anything you’re not sure about, see your dentist 🙂 🙂