Brushing Teeth and Flossing May Lower Risk of Oral Cancer


Could the risk of oral cancers be reduced through regular tooth brushing and flossing?

Recently scientists discovered that individuals who keep their teeth and gums clean by removing harmful bacteria with regular brushing and flossing may be at lower risk for developing human papillomavirus (HPV) oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the throat, tonsils and base of the tongue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 60 percent of oral cancers are related to HPV, affecting more than 2,300 women and 9,300 men. Scientists at Ohio State University report that the connection between HPV, which often is associated with sexually transmitted diseases, was detected about five years ago.

In the past, oral cancer often was connected to use of tobacco products. Scientists say this connection has declined in recent years as Americans have learned about associated health problems. Unfortunately, the incidences of HPV-related oral cancers are increasing.

Medical professionals report that recent studies indicate the HPV vaccine is an effective treatment option to reduce infection rates, including fighting cervical and oral cancers. However, if left untreated, HPV can cause cancers in the head, neck, cervix, anus, penis, vulva and vagina.

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