While research has found links between the status of your oral hygiene and cancer, a link is not the same as a cause, so sadly we cannot say that good oral health will keep you from getting cancer. What we can say is that good oral hygiene (which you should do anyway) can’t hurt in your quest to reduce your cancer risk as much as possible.
A 2007 study showed a link between gum (or periodontal) disease and pancreatic cancer. Men with a history of gum disease had a 64% increased chance of developing pancreatic cancer compared to men who had never had gum disease. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer was greater in men who’d recently lost teeth. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, and poor oral care contributes to developing gum disease.
So far, no research has shown a link between tooth decay and pancreatic cancer.
A 2013 study implicates a bacteria called fusobacteria as a link to colorectal cancer. This bacteria is found in those with gum disease and in infections around but outside the mouth. It is not yet known if the bacteria causes the cancer or if it’s just an indirect link. Fusobacteria have a molecule that attaches to cells, then turns on cancer growth genes and stimulates inflammatory responses, promoting tumor formation.
To prevent gum disease, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist on a regular basis. This may be 2, 3, or 4 times a year, depending on your current level of oral health. Your dentist or dental hygienist is able to remove hard deposits that harbor bacteria near your teeth and gums—hard deposits that your toothbrush (no matter how hard it is or how hard you brush) and floss won’t remove.
You can find out more about gum disease on my website, www.drjrobb.com
Note: The Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare practitioners.
If you don’t currently have a dentist, Dr. Jennifer Robb invites you to join her office. Call 440-960-1940. The office is located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053.
Dr. Robb is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb