Oral Hygiene check-ups- you know they’re important for keeping your teeth clean- and who doesn’t love the feeling of a sparkly clean smile when you leave the office? But, did you know that your Dental Hygienist is also on the lookout for numerous different oral and mouth related diseases, including diseases that present symptoms inside of the mouth?
This month we are taking a look at the reality of Oral Cancer. Dental hygienists play an important role in the early detection of oral cancer through Oral cancer screening (OCS). This screening is part of every dental hygiene appointment, regardless of age. Each year thousands of Canadians are diagnosed with new cases of oral cancer, but the key to increased survival rates is early detection.
In addition to being sure to continue making and keeping your dental hygiene appointments, we’ve compiled a few lifestyle tips to help lower your risk of ever developing Oral Cancer.
Tips for Lowering the Risk of Oral Cancer
- Load up on Fruits & Veggies: the vitamins and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables positively impact your immune system’s ability to defend itself. Five servings a day is recommended, so get creative. Adding veggies to smoothies is an excellent way to stealthily add a strong nutritional kick to your daily treat!
- How You Cook Your Veggies Matters: while you’re trying to load up on your daily veggie serving count, it’s important to consider how you are preparing your veggies. Frying or over-cooking vegetables can actually remove the cancer-fighting nutrients out of them. For a healthier alternative- try baking, steaming, broiling, or even snacking on them raw!
- Sunscreen- for your lips: In addition to raising the chance of skin cancer, sun time can do similar damage to your lips. Even though the winter months are among us, the sun can be even brighter when reflected off of the snow! Daily spf (for your face too!) and a lip balm with at least 15 sun protection factor (SPF) is important all year round. Oh, and skip the tanning beds, please!
- Quit Smoking: this is easily the best thing you can do for your mouth – and the rest of your body. Even if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, quitting now helps. The more and the longer you smoke, the higher your risk.
- Cut down on Alcohol: heavy drinking causes mouth irritation that can create a strong environment for oral cancer. This chance is increased heavily if accompanied by smoking heavily. If you do drink, moderation is key.
And, most importantly, keep up with your daily dental hygiene routine at home- brushing twice and flossing once a day. In conjunction with your regular dental hygiene appointments, you’re on a good course to preventing oral cancer.