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As well as having your teeth checked for decay and your gums checked for gum disease, it is important to check for mouth cancer too, your dentist will do this as part of your regular dental check. Your dentist will carefully examine the inside of your mouth and tongue and in some patients may notice a flat, painless, white or red spot or a small sore. Although most of these are harmless, some are not. Harmful oral spots or sores often look identical to those that are harmless, but testing can tell them apart.
How can I prevent Mouth Cancer?
A healthy lifestyle can protect against mouth cancer. Smoking is the most common cause of mouth cancer, and can increase your risk of developing the condition by several times. The risk is the same for users of all forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco, paan, areca nut and gutkha.
How can I stop smoking?
- speak to your pharmacist about nicotine replacement such as chewing gum or patches
- contact a local group that can offer advice and support
Although much less documented, drinking alcohol to excess poses almost as big a risk as smoking when it comes to mouth cancer.
In addition, because alcohol helps tobacco to absorb into the mouth, people who smoke and drink to excess are up to 30 times more likely to develop the condition.
Reduce Your Risk
There are other things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer:
- avoid excessive exposure to sunlight to help prevent lip cancer
- eat green and yellow fresh fruit and vegetables every day – bananas, peppers, broccoli, beans and cabbage are good sources of beta-carotene that can help to prevent other cancers too.
Get medical advice if an ulcer or white or red patch does not clear after three weeks.