Bad Oral Health Increases Cancer Risks


It now appears that having good oral hygiene does more than just keep your breath fresh and your teeth white; it lowers your risk for certain cancers too. In a new study that looked at 3,439 people ages 30 to 69 years, it was found that those with poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of infection with oral human papillomavirus (HPV). The problem is that HPV can, over time, develop into cancers of the mouth and throat. The American Cancer Society says that about 36,000 people will get cancers of the mouth and throat and about 6,850 will die from the disease this year, so this is an issue worth considering.

Researchers think those with poor oral health will have problems like sores in the mouth or throat or inflamed gums that may allow the HPV to enter the body more easily than in people without these symptoms. Two issues complicate dealing with oral HPV. First, there is currently no approved test for oral HPV and second, the HPV vaccines currently in use seem to address the genital version of the disease, though it’s not clear if it could also help the oral version.

In the long run, more study is needed, but the evidence certainly shows that maintaining good oral health has many benefits, both immediate and long term.

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