How Can Better Oral Hygiene Prevent Oral Cancer?

When you were a child, the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis was probably something you heard often. Almost always the focus was to keep your teeth clean to avoid cavities and the build-up of plaque, but have you ever thought that the effects of bad oral hygiene could lead to something as serious as oral cancer?

Man flossing his teethOral Hygiene and Cancer

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a 2007 study linking neglected mouth hygiene, to head, neck and oral cancers. Researchers have found that over 3,400 U.S. adults who ranked their own personal oral hygiene as “poor” to “fair” have a higher chance of acquiring an oral infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that approximately 12,000 cases of oral cancer occur in the U.S. each year. The presence of HPV is thought to cause close to 75 percent of these cases.

Reduce Your Risks

Here are some ways to improve your oral hygiene to prevent or reduce the risk of oral cancer.

  1. Make it a habit to brush and floss your teeth after every meal. Participating in both brushing and flossing will remove unwanted plaque and leftover food from your teeth and gums, resulting in less decay.
  2. Avoid or limit the use of tobacco and alcohol products to improve your oral hygiene. Using tobacco products means you have a 27 times greater chance of being diagnosed with oral cancer over an individual who never uses tobacco.
  3. Visit your dentist at least twice a year, and more often if you are at high risk or the dentist recommends more frequent visits. Allowing your dentist frequent access to your mouth gives him or her many opportunities to spot any signs of oral cancer early on. Just like with any cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat.

Protect Yourself

Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, broken teeth, and gum disease, which can contribute to oral cancer. Following these tips can help protect you against oral cancer and all of the stress and worry that comes with this disease.