What’s Your Risk Of Oral Cancer? (and help with stopping smoking….)

With mouth cancer on the rise, it is worth taking a look at how high your risk is.

There are a number of factors which can increase the risk of oral cancer, but poor oral care and smoking are two of the main ones. If you don’t look after your teeth and gums and are a smoker, your chances of suffering from this disease are very real.

Early treatment is more likely to be effective than if the issue was detected at a more advanced stage, but even then, this disease can cause long term problems with speech and swallowing, as well as some potential disfigurement.

Hopefully, our Purley patients understand the importance of good home oral care, along with the need to see a dentist every six months for an examination. Doing so enables us to keep an eye on your general oral health and spot any problems relatively early on. In addition to this though, there are certain habits that some of us have which may increase our risks of poor oral health, and, potentially, mouth cancer.

Drinking and smoking

For years, drinking and smoking were both seen as acceptable things to do socially. With the smoking ban, this is no longer the case, although thousands of people have not yet given up. Even the cost of a packet of cigarettes has not deterred some, with illegal cigarettes sometimes being bought at a cheaper price which may well be even more carcinogenic than legitimate ones.

Whilst alcohol consumption is still very popular in the UK, and especially as part of a social life, it is interesting to see that many younger people are now turning away from alcohol, with pubs no longer being the centre for socialising that they once were. Over time, if this trend continues, we may see a reversal in the trend of oral cancers being on the increase.

Whilst moderate consumption of alcohol within guidelines should perhaps do little harm, both heavy or regular drinking, and any amount of smoking is certainly going to be detrimental to good oral health and increase the risk of cancer.

How to stop smoking

Even though most of the patients here at the Confidental Clinic do understand that smoking is harmful as well as being expensive, many do wish to stop but find it difficult to do so. As nicotine is highly addictive, stopping smoking can be extremely difficult for some, but doing so is certainly worth it in the long run.

To help any of our Purley patients who wish to stop smoking, we offer some useful tips below.

Find a reason

For some people, their own health is not sufficient a motivating factor to quit. It can be all too easy to put our heads in the sand, thinking we will be fine, until one day, we are not. By then. It may be too late and it may, therefore, be useful to find alternative motivating factors to stop smoking such as saving money for a nice holiday. With the cost of cigarettes, it really wouldn’t take you very long to save for a holiday if you stopped now. As a ballpark estimation, if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you could save over £3.5k a year by stopping. That would certainly buy you a nice holiday!

Get prepared

Cutting cigarettes from your life can come as a real shock to the system. Some people deal with this better than others. It may be worth looking into alternatives such as nicotine patches or gum to help you gradually reduce your reliance on it. Remember, it is an addiction and you may feel a little ‘rough’ for a short period of time as your body gets used to life without nicotine. Try to remember that this is a temporary feeling and that the long term benefits are hugely worthwhile.

Get support

Whether you have friends or family who are there to support you and help you to quit, or you join a local group, it doesn’t really matter. There will almost certainly be times when you feel you want a cigarette, even years after you have quit. Having someone to turn to when you feel like this, will be very helpful in your quest to stop.

Avoid triggers

Even once you have stopped, you are likely to come across situations where you would normally have lit up a cigarette. This will be different for each individual but may include when watching a football game on TV with friends, with a glass of wine etc … You may not want, or be able, to get rid of these moments, but do look for a suitable alternative to smoking at these points. Do also throw out any physical reminders such as ashtrays, lighters etc. Anything that makes it physically easier to start smoking again will probably do so.

What about vaping?

Some patients have asked us about vaping as an alternative to smoking. We covered this in more detail in a previous blog but, in a nutshell, whilst we can’t claim that this is perfectly safe in the longer term, as much research has yet to be done, there is wide consensus that it is a much safer habit than smoking, and one that many people have used to successfully stub them out for good.

At the Confidental Clinic, we believe that a preventative approach to oral health care is very important, so please make sure that you have a check up appointment booked by calling us on 020 8660 8923.