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Average Age For Oral Cancer – Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Puzzle piece with "Oral Cancer" written on it in front of a pink background.Oral cancer is a serious medical condition that can arise in patients with or without a poor oral health history. However, there are several risk factors that can significantly increase a person’s chances of developing oral cancer.

Oral cancer is cancer of the oral cavity and related tissues, such as the tongue, cheeks, lips, gums, and throat. To reduce your risk of developing oral cancer, it is important to visit your dentist regularly for comprehensive dental exams.

The dental team at Beyond Smiles of Park Ridge is trained to detect and identify signs of oral cancer and other dental diseases. If caught early, this aggressive form of cancer will be much easier to treat. For this reason, it is important to know who is at a heightened risk for developing oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

  • Age

Age is one of the leading factors associated with oral cancer risk. The risk of developing oral cancer rises as we get older, and most patients diagnosed are above the age of 40. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, oral cancer rates increase more rapidly once a person hits age 50, peaking between 60 and 70 years of age.

The average age for mouth cancer development has lowered over time, which means it is even more important for patients go in for regular screenings.

  • Alcohol Consumption

Heavy alcohol consumption is a high risk factor for developing oral cancer, and has been for many years. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, alcohol abuse “when defined as more than 21 standard drinks in one week,” is already the second largest risk factor for oral cancer development. Additionally, if patients smoke or use other tobacco products as well as consume alcohol, they increase their risks of developing oral cancer exponentially.

  • Tobacco Use

Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco products are directly linked to mouth and throat cancers, including those associated with the cheeks, throat, gums, and inner surface of the lips. The longer someone uses tobacco, the higher their chances are of developing cancer.

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that is associated with causing oral cancer. According to the CDC, in the United States HPV infections are thought to be responsible for causing 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, a specific type of oral cancer. HPV-related oral cancers often arise in younger patients, even those who are unlikely to smoke or drink.

Fortunately, HPV-related oral cancers are less likely to result in death or reoccurrence than other oral cancers. Regular screenings and early detection can have a huge impact on a patient’s prognosis.

  • Gender

Men are much more likely to develop oral cancer than women. This could be in part because men typically consume more alcohol and tobacco than women, but that is changing with time. Adult women are drinking and using tobacco more often now than women from older generations. Additionally, young men are being diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancers while women are less susceptible to these types of cancers.

  • Sun Exposure

Individuals who are exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods, such as those who work outside or go tanning, have a higher risk of developing lip cancer than individuals who limit their sun exposure. Wearing a lip balm with UV protection in it, or applying sunscreen, can help prevent sun damage to your lips.

  • Diet

Poor nutrition, such as diets that are lacking in fruits and vegetables, has shown to increase the risk of developing oral cancer. However, individuals who eat well are not immune, so it is still important to visit your dentist for regular screenings even if you are quite particular about what you eat.

  • Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene, which can often lead to gum disease and cavities, may also cause oral cancer. It is already important to visit your dentist regularly for teeth cleanings and exams, but early stage symptoms of oral cancer are easily missed, so those regular exams will both allow your dentist to complete cancer screenings, and help you maintain good oral hygiene.

Visit Us at Beyond Smiles for a Dental Exam

Prevention of oral cavity cancer may not always be possible, but caring properly for your oral health and knowing how to decrease the risks can make a big difference in lessening your chances of getting oral cancer.

If you are interested in receiving an oral health and cancer screening from a qualified dentist in Park Ridge, contact Beyond Smiles today and schedule an appointment. Early detection is the key to protecting your smile and your overall health.

Contact our team of professionals to schedule a Park Ridge dental cleaning today!

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