Sometimes the dentist’s office is given a bad name. The fear of sedation, a new cavity arising or just the sound of a drill can deter some people from their bi-yearly check-ups. Other people brush off their visits because their teeth are pearly white and appear to be in pristine.
In fact, we are taught from a young age that not brushing your teeth can lead to bad breath, stained teeth and overall poor oral hygiene. However, going to the dentist has more than just cosmetic benefits. Researchers are now saying that poor oral hygiene can be linked to a virus that leads to cancer.
A recent study in the Cancer Prevention Research reveals that failing to brush your teeth and not taking care of your oral health can lead to an HPV infection. HPV is a leading cause for some forms of cancers. The University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston evaluated close to 3,500 patients who participated in a 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The report showed that people who did not have good oral health habits had a 56% higher rate of HPV infection than those with healthy oral routines did. Individuals with gum disease had a 51% higher risk of HPV infection.
Almost 2,370 new cases of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women. Unfortunately, there is not a test for oral HPV so finding it before it advances can be difficult. Therefore, the key is to be more proactive.
The great news is that getting regular dental check-ups, brushing daily and flossing regularly can serve as preventative measures to safeguard against potential illnesses and infections that can harm your entire body. So the next time you have a chance to visit a dentist, just remember the added benefits of a check-up. Your dentist could be your first line of defense.