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Monday, June 13, 2016

Good dental hygiene may reduce the risk of head and neck cancers

Daily tooth brushing and annual dentist visits may reduce the risk of head and neck cancers by a small margin, according to a recent study by Hashin et al. of the department of preventive medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

The researchers combined data from 13 past studies including a total of almost 9,000 oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal, and pharyngeal cancer patients and more than 12,000 comparison subjects without cancer. The studies were done in the Americas, Europe and Japan. In all of them, oral hygiene was assessed based on gum disease or bleeding, missing teeth, daily tooth brushing, visiting a dentist at least once per year and whether a person wore dentures.

Individuals with fewer than five missing teeth, annual dentist visits, daily tooth brushing and no gum disease had lower risk than others of having head and neck cancer. Wearing dentures was not related to cancer risk. 

The indicators of oral hygiene/health used in the study are all connected with chronic irritation to the head and neck and are indicative of tooth wear, mechanical trauma, and general health maintenance.

The authors conclude that good oral hygiene, as characterized by few missing teeth, annual dentist visits, and daily tooth brushing, may modestly reduce the risk of head and neck cancer.