Dental Visits And Flossing ‘Reduce Risk Of Oral Cancer’


We all know that going to see our dentist is important. But somehow it’s one of those things that tends to slip down our to-do lists and before you know it several years can go by and you still won’t have had a professional check up of your teeth and mouth in general.

Live Science recently pointed out that it’s really important to regularly visit your dentist in Guildford, after new research found that going to your dentist at least once a year, as well as regular flossing, reduces your risk of developing oral cancer.

The study followed patients at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center who were diagnosed with oral cancer between 2011 and 2014. The researchers compared their behaviour to that of other patients who visited the university’s ear, nose and throat clinic for other conditions, such as dizziness or an earache.

Patients were asked to complete a survey, which asked them about everything from how often they flossed to how much alcohol they drank. It also asked whether they smoked, how often they visited their dentist and how sexually active they were.

Oral cancers can be separated into two main groups: cases caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and cases that are HPV-negative. Dental hygiene didn’t play a role in the risk factors for oral cancers caused by HPV.

However, in the HPV-negative group, the researchers found that those who visited their dentist less than once a year almost doubled their risk of developing oral cancer.

Similarly, those who flossed less than once a day had more than twice the risk of developing oral cancer than those who flossed once or more a day.

While the findings are certainly interesting, more research needs to be carried out because the study didn’t identify cause and effect.

Speaking to the news provider, Denise Laronde, an associate professor in dentistry at the University of British Columbia, who wasn’t involved in the research, explained that people need to think differently about their oral health.

“A lot of the time people look at their oral health as almost disconnected from the rest of their body. But so many systemic diseases are reflected in your oral health and vice versa,” she explained.

Flossing should be an important part of your oral health routine. According to the NHS, you should introduce it to your routine from the age of 12. You could also try using an interdental brush if you find flossing too difficult, the website suggested.

The idea behind flossing is to give your teeth a more thorough clean, reaching places that your toothbrush can’t. Preventing the buildup of plaque around your gums is especially important, as this is a cause of gum disease.

Be patient and take your time when you’re flossing. You want to avoid snapping the floss between your teeth and into your gums as this can make them bleed. Work the floss gently between your teeth and gradually take it up to the gum line before working the floss backwards and forwards along the surface of the tooth to clean it.

If you struggle with flossing, tell you dentist at your next appointment and ask them to give you some advice, or suggest an alternative way of removing the plaque from between your teeth.