Frequent flossing and regular dental visits may be linked to a reduced risk of oral cancer, according to findings presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Atlanta. Investigators compared the dental behaviors of patients who were diagnosed with oral cancer between 2011 and 2014 at the ear, nose, and throat clinic at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center to noncancer patients who came to the clinic for other reasons, such as dizziness. All patients responded to a survey that asked about flossing, dental visits, sexual activity, and if they smoked or drank alcohol.
The researchers also distinguished between oral cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV) and those attributed to other causes. After adjusting for factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status and race, the team determined that patients who went to the dentist less than once a year had nearly twice the risk of developing non-HPV oral cancer than those who visited once a year or more. In addition, subjects who flossed less than once a day had more than twice the risk of developing non-HPV oral cancer than those who flossed more frequently.
In their presentation, “643/27 – Poor Oral Hygiene Is Associated With HPV-Negative and Not HPV-Positive Oral Cancer,” the researchers suggest poor oral health behaviors may alter oral microbial composition and promote chronic inflammation, which can lead to the development of non-HPV oral cancers.