Ways to Reduce the Risk of Oral Cancer

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Quit Smoking: This is the best thing you can do for your mouth, and the rest of your body, too. The more and longer you smoke — cigarettes, cigars, or pipes — the higher your risk. But even if you’ve been at it for a long time, stopping now helps. If you do get cancer, quitting means your treatment will work better, you’ll heal faster, and it’ll be less likely to come back. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start.

Stay Away From Secondhand Smoke

Just like with lung cancer, you need to watch out for tobacco even if you don’t smoke. When you spend time around people who do, your odds of oral cancer go up, too. And the longer you’re around it, the higher your risk. There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke.

Ditch the Chew

There’s no healthy way to use tobacco. Like smoking, there are benefits to quitting chew or snuff, even if you’ve used it for a long time. Your mouth will thank you for other reasons, too. You’re more likely to keep all your teeth and avoid gum disease.

Don’t Use Betel Quid

Popular in Southeast Asia and some other parts of the world, you chew this mix of betel leaf, areca nut, and lime. When you add tobacco to it, it’s called gutka. Either way, it’s best to avoid it. With or without tobacco, it’s been clearly linked to oral cancer. 

Are Dentures an Issue?

One school of thought says dentures that don’t fit well, or sharp or crooked teeth, can irritate your mouth, and that may raise your odds for oral cancer. But there’s no clear proof of that. We do know that people who wear dentures aren’t at higher risk. It’s still best to make sure your dentures fit well and that any dental work you have done isn’t bothering your mouth.

Can Brushing and Flossing Help?

Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day because it’s just good for oral health. One study seemed to show a link between good oral health and preventing HPV, which would lower your chances of having oral cancer. But the results of the study were limited, and it was only a first look. More research is needed to figure out how strong the connection is

Is Mouthwash a Problem?

The jury’s still out. Some studies seem to show that mouthwash that has a lot of alcohol could raise your chances of oral cancer. But it’s hard to know for sure because people who drink and smoke also tend to use mouthwash more. That makes it tough to tell if there’s a clear link.

The American Dental Association says mouthwash may help people over 6 because it can go where a toothbrush can’t. Use one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance 🙂 🙂

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