There’s now one more good reason to keep up daily brushings, flossing, and routine visits to your dentist. A recent study from researchers at both the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center reports that good oral hygiene could possibly lower the risk of non-HPV related oral cancer. This was discovered after dental hygiene behaviors for patients diagnosed with oral cancer were observed and recorded, along with many other behaviors, and characteristics, from researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. |
Researchers studied the first of two types of oral cancer: that type which is not linked to the human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted virus. This type of oral cancer is traditionally associated with behaviors such as heavy alcohol and tobacco use. Patients involved in the recent study reported everything from their diet, drinking and smoking behaviors, sexual health, and brushing, flossing habits, as well as their frequency of visits to a general dentist for routine care.
After looking at the data, researchers ruled out factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity and discovered a link between poor oral hygiene and patients with non-HPV related oral cancer. Those who had routine dental cleanings less than once every 12 months had nearly twice the risk of developing non-HPV oral cancer than those patients who attended more frequently. They also found that those patients who flossed irregularly had over twice the risk of developing non-HPV oral cancer than their counterparts who flossed daily. The study did not find a link between HPV-linked oral cancer and poor oral hygiene.
The reason behind oral hygiene’s link to cancer? Researchers believe it stems from inflammation. Poor oral hygiene causes a build-up of oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar which can significantly alter the state of a person’s mouth. The inflammation caused by bacterial growth and infection can lead to cancer development.
Further studies may identify whether poor oral hygiene is, in fact, a cause of oral cancer, but for now, patients can take proactive steps in bettering their oral health to avoid potentially increasing their risk for oral cancer.
Flossing once a day, preferably at night, can remove food debris and plaque built up throughout the day and ensure your mouth is clean and protected during the seven or eight hours of sleep at night. Flossing not only prevents tooth decay in hard-to-reach areas of the teeth but prevents gum inflammation and infection and can keep gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, at bay. While research has previously shown periodontal health’s links to heart health, this new research could be one more reason to encourage patients to pick up their floss nightly.
In addition, brushing twice a day and attending bi-annual dental cleanings and examinations can not only save enamel and teeth, but positively impact your overall health. Many researchers believe we are only just now discovering oral health’s links to inflammation and systemic issues such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, heart disease, and pregnancy complications.
For patients in the Denver area looking to improve their oral health, schedule an appointment with Metro Dental Care in downtown Denver. For over 30 years, we’ve been helping treat periodontal disease and tooth decay for Colorado patients and can help you, too. Call us at 303.534.2626.
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