Home / Dentistry / Oral Cancer Prevention Tips

Oral Cancer Prevention Tips

Oral cancer claims the lives of approximately fifty percent of those diagnosed with the disease. When malignant cells make their way into the lymph nodes, they spread throughout the body rapidly. The lymph nodes not only filter blood cells, they are a major part of the immune system since they produce antibodies and lymphocytes. The oral cavity lies in close proximity to lymph nodes located in the neck, making it easier for oral cancer to invade the lymph node system. The result is a high mortality rate.

Preventative measures can and should be taken with all cancers, particularly one with such a high mortality rate. Knowing the causes of oral cancer is the first step in being able to prevent it from occurring in non-hereditary cases.

The National Cancer Institute lists tobacco use as the top known cause of oral cancer and alcohol consumption second. Listed as possible risk factors are sun exposure, HPV infections, and marijuana use.

For years physicians have been warning patients prolonged use of any irritant and foreign objects not removed from the body can cause cancer in general. For this reason, it is quite possible excessive use of teeth whitening agents puts one at risk for oral cancer. Gum disease may very well play a role, too. Gum disease results in deep pockets in the gums just above the base line of the tooth. These pockets hide an excess of dental plaque and decaying food particles. Excessive use of acidic beverages and carbonated drinks may also be a risk factor since they are highly irritant to the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth.

Listed below are several prevention tips you and your loved ones should use to decrease the risk of oral cancer.


Begin with good oral hygiene and routine dental exams. Follow proper oral hygiene techniques in brushing and flossing your teeth. Brush after meals and snacks for a full two minutes and floss at least once a day.

Oral cancer often does not cause any pain or soreness in the early stages. A dentist is often able to locate suspect lesions, leukoplakia, or erthyroplakia unnoticed by the patient in the early stage of malignancy. Early detection is key in surviving oral cancer should you be striken with a malignancy despite your best efforts at prevention. Keep all routine dental examination appointments.


If you use any form of tobacco, quit now. Smoking and use of smokeless tobacco products have been shown to cause oral cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, those who have stopped smoking for five years decrease their risk of oral cancer by fifty percent. By ten years after quitting tobacco use, the person is at the same risk as a person who has never used tobacco products.


Consumption of alcohol has been shown to cause oral cancer and should be avoided. Both tobacco use and alcohol are thought to cause leukoplakia and erythroplakia. They are white, rough patches or red patches of cells on the mucous membranes of the mouth. They are often found on the floor of the mouth, the inside cheek, or the gums and can become malignant.


Oral cancer includes the lips and exposure to sun is thought to be a risk factor. Avoid over exposure to the sun. Use a lip balm that includes a sunscreen or a colored lipstick.

If you have a habit of biting your lip, do all possible to break yourself from it. Constant biting of the lip irritates the skin. People who bite their lip habitually also tend to bite away chapped skin with their teeth. These actions may also put you at risk for cancer.


It is thought that infection with a certain type of Human Papillomavirus can put you at risk for oral cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. Refraining from unprotected sex can help prevent HPV and therefore, helps prevent the risk of an oral malignancy. Practice the safe sex tips given for HIV and AIDS. These include using protection, avoiding promiscuity, avoiding sex with a promiscuous person, remaining with only one sex partner, and avoidance of sexual contact with partners of the same sex.


Marijuana is thought to be a risk factor. The risk may increase for marijuana users who have a high risk HPV infection. Refrain from use of marijuana.


Avoiding excessive use of highly acidic or carbonated beverages may help decrease your risk for oral cancer. Avoiding excessive use of highly irritating commercially available teeth whitening formulas may also help decrease your risk. Refraining from wearing pierced lip, tongue, or cheek jewelry may also be helpful in decreasing your risk.


Eating a well balanced diet and foods high in antioxidants can help prevent many cancers. The human body cannot function properly when it is not given the sufficient fuel it needs. A healthy, well balanced diet aids the immune system in fighting off infection. Antioxidants have been shown to aid the body in the fight against cancer. Including a good quality multivitamin as part of your daily routine is also beneficial to the body.

Oral cancer can be prevented in many cases and detected early in cases when it cannot be prevented. Following these prevention tips can help you not become another mortality rate statistic.