Preventing oral cancer

Nicolas Elian, chief dental officer at CareMount Dental in Mount Kisco, offers several tips to keep you from getting oral cancer.

According to, more than 51,500 people are diagnosed with cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils and tongue each year. Early prevention results in less aggressive treatment, which will benefit a person’s overall health and quality of life. 

Some of the most common symptoms of oral cancer include the presence of lumps, rough spots, swelling, bleeding, sores on the face or mouth and changes in the teeth. Early on, symptoms of oral cancer can be easily missed. To ensure this disease does not go undetected, people who are experiencing symptoms and are regularly exposed to tobacco, alcohol and the human papilloma virus (HPV ) should schedule an examination with a dentist to work closely with physicians to determine the root of the issue.

With decades of experience and using the network of resources and insight from our dentists at CareMount Dental in Mount Kisco, I’m happy to help educate patients on dental care tips that people can take to prevent oral cancer:

Practice good oral hygiene: By staying dedicated to healthy routines such as brushing your teeth twice a day, using mouthwash, flossing and regular dental visits, the chances of contracting oral cancer are lowered. Poor oral hygiene can lead to bleeding gums, bacterial infections and loss of teeth, all of which can put patients at a higher risk. Getting professional cleanings twice a year will help ensure that your mouth is as clean and healthy as possible. 

Avoid smoking and other tobacco products: Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco contain toxins, carcinogens and nicotine — ingredients that are known to cause cancer in the cheeks, tonsils, throat, gums and lips. If you are a smoker or tobacco user and are struggling with addiction, have a conversation with your dentist and/or primary doctor, who will provide you with an individualized plan to help you quit using tobacco products. 

Eat a balanced diet: All healthy oral hygiene routines should be matched with healthy eating habits. Start incorporating essential nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals into your diet to help proactively fight tumors. Fruits, vegetables and lean meats are the foundation of a balanced diet. Key ingredients to avoid for lessening the risk of oral cancer are alcohol, fat, salt and sugar. Eating healthy will also help protect your teeth from other issues such as cavities and weak teeth. 

Schedule routine oral cancer screenings: Patients are encouraged to look into their own mouths. Anything that seems irregular should be noted and brought to your dentist’s attention immediately. Dentists are equipped to screen for and properly diagnose oral cancer. During a screening, potentially cancerous oral growths will be revealed using light transmission-assisted visual inspection with Identafi and bi-digital palpation. A head and neck examination will also be performed during your visit. 

In addition to educating yourself, you can also proactively fight the chances of getting oral cancer that may lead to more detrimental health issues down the line by scheduling a dentist appointment regarding any symptoms that may be present. Early detection and prevention are possible when medical professionals and dentists work together to treat the whole patient.

Nicolas Elian is the chief dental officer at CareMount Dental in Mount Kisco.

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