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Is There a Link Between Dental Health and Cancer?

Have you ever wondered why it is so important to keep our teeth and gums clean and healthy? Could it be that we just want to look good and keep the teeth functional? Or could there be more to this? Well, recent studies have discovered a link between dental health and cancer. So if until now you thought that brushing your teeth and taking care of your gums was important, you’ll think that dental hygiene is paramount from now on. Read on and find out the link between dental health and wellness. See how dental health will impact your health and how big a risk you’re exposing yourself to if you have bad teeth.

Oral Bacteria and Pancreatic Cancer

The British Dental Health Foundation found that there may be a link between oral bacteria that cause gum disease and pancreatic cancer. The study show that certain types of bacteria that lead to gum disease are linked to a three times higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas. The most interesting find of this study is that oral bacteria that are not harmful actually decrease the risk of getting pancreatic cancer by a staggering 45%. This study doesn’t claim to have found complete and utter proof that certain oral bacteria will cause pancreatic cancer, but only that there is a significant association between the two. Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer may include: loss of appetite, jaundice, weight loss, upper abdomen pain, diabetes and depression. Bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth and regular mouth infections are signs of gum disease.

HPV and Oral Cancer Virus

UK scientists have discovered that in comparison with patients who have HPV negative tumors, those with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) positive ones have a higher bone loss – a crucial element for developing severe gum disease. Latest figures show that over 6,000 people in the UK have oral cancer and 2,000 die each year from the disease. More and more people are getting oral cancer from infection with HPV. It is thought that in a decade or so, HPV may rival tobacco as the main cause for oral malignancy.

Dental Health and Cancer

Another startling fact? More teeth are lost through gum disease than tooth decay! Recent studies show an association between esophageal cancer and missing teeth. What can we do? Brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day, use dental floss, reduce sugary foods and drinks and see your dentist regularly… and of course, do not ignore any symptoms such as bad breath and bleeding gums.

scientific studies about dental health and cancer

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Dental Cavities and Head and Neck Cancer

Somehow a study managed to discover quite surprising results: it seems that people who have more dental cavities have a lower risk of developing head and neck cancer than those who have fewer or no cavities at all. How is that possible? Well, the bacteria present in the mouth make acids (lactic acid) that strip the tooth of its minerals, thus causing caries. According to researchers from the University of Buffalo these bacteria trigger an immune response and could protect against cancer. Thus, dental cavities could be considered a type of collateral damage. Scientists have their minds set on developing a strategy that would reduce the risk of caries while preserving the lactic acid in the mouth.

Brain Tumors and Dental X-rays

A recent study has linked dental X-rays to the development of non-cancerous (but possibly debilitating) brain tumor called meningioma – a rare disease that appears in 8 out of 100,000 people. It is more common in women, than in men. This tumor develops in the membrane that keeps the brain, called the meninges.

A research done by the Yale School of Public Health and published in a journal of the American Cancer Society discovered that people who have received frequent X-Ray before the doses were lowered were twice as likely to develop meningioma. Meningioma will not cause cancer, but they can grow quite large (bigger than a baseball) and will cause headaches, vision problems and even loss of motor and speech control.
The risk apparently increases the younger the person started having the X-rays. Those who started at the age of 9 had four times the risk. The American Dental Association recommends that adults receive dental X-Rays no more than once every 2-3 years.

Conclusion

The results are quite conflicting, but there is a link between dental health and cancer. We encourage you to take good care of your teeth and go to the dentist regularly, just to be on the safe side! What are your thoughts about what these studies have discovered? Let us know in comment section below!

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