Taking steps such as avoiding tobacco, practicing good oral hygiene, and getting a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination may help people lower their risk of developing oral cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol consumption, exposure to sunlight, and certain strains of HPV
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk, adopting certain lifestyle changes and being aware of risk factors can significantly lower the likelihood of developing oral cancer.
This article looks at various ways to lower the risk of oral cancer, early symptoms that may indicate cancer, and when to speak with a doctor.
- smokeless tobacco
HPV is a group of viruses that can infect the genital area, mouth, and throat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV
A 2018 review highlights certain strains, including HPV types 16 and 18, that may increase the risk of oral cancers.
According to a 2022 article, chewing areca nuts is a significant risk factor for oral cancer. The areca nut is an ingredient in betel quid, which the article authors suggest is responsible for around half of Taiwan’s reported oral cancer cases.
Areca nut and betel quid chewing
The American Dental Association highlights the following steps to maintain good oral hygiene:
- brush teeth twice a day
- use fluoride toothpaste
- use floss daily to clean between teeth
- replace toothbrushes every 3–4 months
- eat a balanced, healthy diet
- attend regular dental checkups
According to a
The article’s authors suggest this is due to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative, and anti-angiogenic properties.
However, further research is necessary to understand the link between diet and oral cancer.
Learn how to build and consume a balanced diet.
According to the
When spending time outdoors, especially in sunny environments, a person should protect lips from excessive sun exposure by using lip balms with sunscreen or wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
- persistent mouth sores
- white or red patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- unexplained pain in the mouth
- a lump in the mouth or throat
- difficulty swallowing
- hoarseness or voice changes
- sore throat or the feeling of something stuck in the throat
- numbness in the mouth
- ear pain
- changes in bite
- loose teeth
- unexplained weight loss
If someone experiences early symptoms of oral cancer for more than
A doctor or dentist can perform a thorough examination and recommend any necessary tests or referrals.
Measures such as avoiding tobacco and alcohol, getting an HPV vaccination, and eating a balanced, healthy diet may help people reduce their risk of oral cancer.
Attending regular dental checkups and an awareness of risk factors and early symptoms may also help people to catch and treat oral cancer in the earliest stages.
People should speak with a doctor if they experience symptoms of oral cancer for more than two weeks.