Cancer is one illness no one ever wants to be diagnosed with. If you are concerned about oral cancer, there are risk factors. If you want to prevent oral cancer, have dental checkups every six months. During your dental exam, a dentist looks in your mouth for anything unusual. While the dentist is conducting your dental exam, talk to them if you have any risk factors.


The biggest risk factor for oral cancer is using tobacco. Using tobacco could mean smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping. Many people no longer smoke, and so they believe they are free from worry about oral cancer. While your risk goes down for oral cancer the longer you have gone without using tobacco, you still need to let the dentist know you used to use tobacco.


Drinking alcohol is not a factor in oral cancer unless you are a heavy drinker. People who drink heavily can alter the cells in their mouths through alcohol use. Over time, excessive drinking can lead to oral cancer.


People who carry the human papillomavirus, or HPV, are at a higher risk for oral cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, and people can have HPV on their genitalia or in their mouths. The virus is not curable. If you have HPV, you need to let your dentist know so that you can get tested for oral cancer.


There are other risk factors that are less common for oral cancer. The older you are, the more likely you’ll need screening for oral cancer, especially if you are male. Other risk factors include poor diet and a high BMI.