Taking Care of Your Teeth Lowers the Risk of Oral Cancer
Research now supports what many dentists have suspected for some time. Flossing your teeth daily and visiting the dentist regularly have been shown to decrease a patient’s risk of oral cancer. Good oral hygiene is an effective preventative measure for this devastating disease.
According to a new research study presented by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), flossing and routine teeth cleaning visits lower the risk of developing oral cancer. Recently, the AACR discussed this important data at their annual meeting. Their main finding was that these two simple habits can significantly impact your health in the long term.
The Dangers of Oral Cancer
June was cancer survivor month. In honor of brave cancer survivors, we want to help our patients prevent this potentially life-threating disease. Nearly 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. It is also more deadly than many other types of cancer which we hear about more often. Among patients with oral cancer, about 43% die within five years of diagnosis, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
This disease is particularly dangerous due to its nearly invisible nature. Most patients don’t notice any signs of cancer in the early stages; malignant tumors can develop and spread without causing pain or other alarming symptoms. Recurrence of oral cancer can be even more challenging to treat successfully. That’s why prevention is crucial.
Although scientists are working to develop new ways to perform oral cancer screening, getting a checkup by your dentist remains the best way to diagnose oral cancer early on.
The Link Between Dental Hygiene and Oral Cancer
In this new research study presented by the AACR, the lifestyle habits of patients already diagnosed with oral cancer were compared to those of cancer-free participants. They analyzed a range of factors in the search for a cause.
There are two types of oral cancer: one that is triggered by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, and one that is not. Smoking and drinking are risk factors for non-HPV related oral cancer. For this reason, people involved in the study were asked about their habits related to smoking, alcohol and sexual activity. They also had to answer questions about how often they floss and go to the dentist. The study was carried out at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Regular Dental Visits
Findings show that patients who get less than one dental checkup per year have almost double the chance of developing non-HPV oral cancer. Regular dentist visits, even just once a year, lower this risk significantly.
The study also found that flossing once a day decreased the risk of getting non-HPV oral cancer by half.
What We Can Learn from this Research
We now have clear evidence that poor oral hygiene increases the risk of non-HPV oral cancer. The hypothesis is that the oral microbiome may be affected by hygiene habits and facilitate the development of tumors. The same group of researchers has previously found proof that oral hygiene practices affect the oral microbiome which leads to inflammation and a higher risk of cancer.
As a dentist, I want my patients to understand the importance of regular oral hygiene. Having routine teeth cleanings at least every six months is necessary for maintaining a pretty smile. But it’s also crucial for your overall health. Good oral hygiene can even help you live longer.
How to Floss Properly
Flossing correctly once a day is more effective than brushing over and over again. It’s the only way to reach the other 20-30% of your teeth’s surface area and remove the food, plaque and bacteria hiding there.
Watch this video to learn the technique for flossing properly.
Learn more about the Link Between Gum Disease and Breast Cancer.
Early Oral Cancer Detection – Briglia Dental Group
The professionals on staff at Briglia Dental Group firmly believe that prevention and early detection are the best medicine. Regular appointments with a hygienist are key to early oral cancer detection. Make your health a priority and schedule an appointment today. Call our office at (610) 692-4440 or fill out a request form online.