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Oral Health and Throat Cancer—Is There a Link?

According to a recent study published in Cancer Prevention Research, your chances of developing throat cancer may be linked to the quality of your oral health.

Researchers in Houston analyzed data collected from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and reported infection from the oral human papillomavirus (HPV)—a main cause of throat cancer—could be related to gum disease and other conditions brought on by poor oral health.

What is throat cancer?

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Throat anatomy with larynx

Throat cancer refers to abnormal cells forming in the pharynx tissues (the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and esophagus). Cancer of the larynx (voice box) may also be included as a type of throat cancer.

The National Cancer Institute estimates in 2013, the United States will face:

  • 13,930 new cases of pharyngeal cancer and 12,260 of laryngeal cancer.
  • 2,400 deaths resulting from pharyngeal cancer; 3,630 laryngeal deaths.

Survey Says…

The compiled data included 3,439 participants ranging from 30-69 years of age. These individuals were chosen and analyzed based on a number of factors and specific criteria. The findings revealed:

  • Participants who admitted to having bad oral health had a 56 percent higher risk of developing oral HPV infection compared with those who had good oral health.
  • Those with gum disease showed a 51 percent higher risk for the oral HPV infection.
  • Participants experiencing dental issues had a 28% higher risk of being infected.
  • Researchers were also able to link oral HPV infections to the number of teeth lost.
  • Males who smoked cigarettes, used marijuana, and participated in oral sex regularly had increased risks of oral HPV infection.

One of the researchers, Thank Cong Bui noted, “Poor oral health is a new independent risk factor for oral HPV infection and, to our knowledge, this is the first study to examine this association. The good news is this risk factor is modifiable. By maintaining good oral hygiene and good oral health, one can prevent HPV infection and subsequent HPV-related cancers.”

Give Your Teeth Some Love

To help keep your oral health in prime condition and lower your risk of developing health issues, adhere to these important reminders:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if it becomes worn or frayed.
  • Do not use any kind of tobacco product—including smokeless tobacco.
  • Visit your dental team in Elgin every six months for a professional cleaning and thorough examination.

Keep your smile, throat, and body happy by booking your next dental appointment with us soon!

We’d love to hear from you: Are you an ex-smoker? What helped you to finally kick the habit?