Cancer is a scary word to hear and it can affect so many parts of the body. There are so many possible variables and contributing factors that it can seem more like a stroke of bad luck to some people. One person can smoke heavily for four decades and live a long life whereas a non-smoker may develop lung cancer early on in life.
But science is continually looking for possible things that might contribute to certain types of cancer, and it looks like they may have found one possible place to zero in on: The state of your teeth and gums.
A recent study (July 2020) by American researchers linked gum disease and certain types of cancer. It was published in the journal “Gut” by researchers based at Harvard University.
This one makes sense since the jawbone is right above the throat and any bacteria can easily make its way down there and begin causing problems. It’s a very direct route and this is why it’s best to stay extra diligent with your brushing and flossing. Of course, there are other risk factors, including smoking, but neglecting your mouth can have dire consequences.
Yes, there are other things that can cause this besides smoking – having bad acid reflux can also play a part. But you can greatly improve your odds merely by staying in the bathroom for two minutes twice a day carefully brushing your teeth – plus one extra minute or so at night to add flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. That is definitely an investment in time worth taking.
As we make our way down our body, the next easy-to-reach location for bacteria is the gastric system. It can breed and possibly cause other complications, like gastric cancer.
Out of the people in the Boston study, this type of cancer was more common than the esophageal one.
Other Risk Factors
People who have gum disease are not the only ones who have this risk though. Those with missing teeth are also possibly susceptible to these cancers. The study showed that those who lost two or more teeth had a much greater chance of getting one of the two types of cancer than those who had retained all of their original teeth.
It’s no surprise that people who smoke have a greater risk of getting cancer, but add poor oral hygiene and the risk for getting certain types, like breast, lung, and gallbladder cancer increases. People who drink a lot of alcohol are at risk of getting certain cancers, as well.
Like many other types of studies, while it did not find a definitive link between the poor oral health and the cancers, they could find enough correlation. Also, this can be quite helpful since there are several biological markers that can then help find people who are possibly at risk and should then monitor those areas to catch the cancers at very early and treatable stages.
While there is no guarantee that having excellent oral health will prevent any cancers from occurring, the time requirements in order to do so are so low… and it really can just improve your quality of life overall. Having an uncomfortable and painful mouth is not fun and can affect many aspects of your day-to-day routine.
One way to definitely ensure that you have your teeth and gums in fantastic condition year-round is to see your dentist twice a year as well. This way, any gum disease can be caught in its early stages and easily reversed with extra attention to your brushing and flossing form. Also, be sure to see your doctor for at least a yearly physical, since the blood tests can pick up on certain anomalies.
Dr. Robert Trager, who has been seeing many patients over the course of his career, can help guide you toward getting the best oral health possible. You can learn how to brush your teeth properly and floss, too. A healthy mouth is the first step toward a healthy body. Give him a call today to make an appointment at JFK-LGA Dentist – 718-656-4747