17 Jul Cancer Risk to Mouth and Throat Elevated by Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is normally associated with bleeding and swollen gums, cavities and tooth loss. Cancer of the mouth and throat are usually associated with heavy drinking and tobacco use (smoking or smokeless). However, there is also a risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat by avoiding good oral health practices.
A recent study covering European cancer patients and control subjects from nine countries revealed a direct link to poor oral hygiene and the development of certain mouth and throat cancers. The study involved Bremen, Germany’s Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology and Glasgow University Dental School researchers.
It was found that those with infected gums as well as those with dentures, both full and partial, were at a higher risk for developing cancer in the mouth and throat. Denture wearers were found to be in the poor oral health group because many believe that because they do not have their own teeth, there is less of a need to see a dentist. Non-denture wearers were classified as poor dental health targets if they rarely or never brushed their teeth or made dental visits.
Another earlier study conducted in 2013 and published in the Cancer Prevention Research journal revealed that those with poor oral health were at a 56 percent higher risk for developing human papillomavirus (HPV). Although HPV is most commonly known to cause sexually transmitted diseases in the genital area, certain types can form and infect the mouth and throat (oral HPV). Oral HPV normally thrives at the base of the tongue and around the tonsils causing what are known as ‘oropharyngeal cancers’.
When bacteria are allowed to grow and thrive in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene practices, they can infect the mouth and throat areas causing changes in cell growth. Although the body’s immune system usually fights off such infections, a weak immune system or the use of agents such as tobacco and alcohol can accelerate the process. Symptoms of the possible presence of mouth and throat cancer include pain when swallowing, sore throat, persistent oral sores, hoarseness, earaches, enlarged lymph nodes and a rapid loss of weight.
Maintaining good oral health significantly reduces the risk for developing mouth or throat cancers. Daily brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to a dental professional and avoiding tobacco and alcohol use, will help to ensure that you have a beautiful, healthy smile and remain mouth and throat cancer-free.
Want to see all the other health issues that can stem from not taking care of your teeth? Check out our interactive dental resource! It’ll change the way you think about oral health!