Reducing the risk of mouth cancer.

30th August 2018 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

Updated August 2019

When you attend a dental appointment, your dentist will routinely check the soft tissue of your lips, mouth, tongue and gums to see if there are any lesions or lumps. If there is something that needs further investigation, then your dentist will refer you.

It’s worth being aware though of risk factors. There are ways to help reduce the risk of mouth cancer.

The government recognises the risk of HPV to boys.

HPV injection shown to reduce the risk of mouth cancerSince 2008, the NHS has vaccinated Year 8 girls in England against human papilloma virus (HPV). The sexually transmitted virus can lead to cervical cancer in girls. However, HPV is also associated with the rise in men reporting with mouth and throat cancer. The NHS has now extended the vaccination programme in England to Year 8 boys.

While there’s a lot in the media praise for the decision to introduce vaccinations for boys, it will not be in place immediately. HPV action is pressing for a start date of September 2019.

Reports state that people who test positive for HPV have a higher number of sexual partners. And while the current vaccinations cover HPV strains 16 and HPV 18, there are still risks. Young people should be aware of the potential danger of HPV.

diagram to show check to do if you're at risk of mouth cancerAnd, “How risky is vaping?”

Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause mouth cancer. Consequently, because of known health risks, more and more people are vaping to try to break the tobacco habit. And, as a result, vaping has become the preferred way of quitting smoking. Increasingly, media articles are pointing out that vaping is risky too. As e-cigarettes are relatively new, there’s not a lot of data. A study in the US, however, suggests that vaping increases the level of chemicals in saliva that could be linked to oral cancer.

Note: From August 2019 with a reported death in the United Sates linked to vaping, more cases of respiratory problems and lung infections are being investigated.

A government publication dated March 2018, outlines current usage of e-cigarettes. While there is a need for further research, vaping can help people to give up smoking.

With vaping, it’s important to remember that for some people it is an effective bridge between being a smoker and going nicotine free. Vaping should not be a long term habit.

It’s best to work on life-style changes for great oral and general health.

Remember: Your dentist will check your mouth at every visit, so it’s important to attend dental appointments regularly to reduce the risk of mouth cancer developing.



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