TOOTH CAVITIES - GOOD FOR YOU? Read on!
People with bad dental hygiene less likely to develop oral cancers , study says
It's the type of study that will encourage some people to stop brushing their teeth altogether. Maybe. According to a new study, adults who have a lot of cavities in their teeth are less likely to get mouth or throat cancer.
"This was an unexpected finding since dental cavities have been considered a sign of poor oral health along with [gum] disease, and we had previously observed an increased risk of head and neck cancers among subjects with [gum] disease," lead researcher Dr Mine Tezal, at the University of Buffalo, New York says.
A medical team studied 399 people with head and neck cancer, comparing these people to 221 people who did not have cancer. The study found that the participants who had the most dental cavities were the least likely to also have cancer.
Tezal explains that tooth decay and cavities result from lactic acid, produced by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria are similar to those used in yogurt. They are also associated with a reduced chance of inflammatory diseases, allergies and some other types of cancer.
Tezal believes that the next step for the team is to discover whether it is possible to find a way of harnessing the beneficial effects of the acid - without leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
"We see a mechanism that may protect against mouth cancer, and may be a potential strategy either as part of prevention or treatment of oral cavity cancer," Dr. Dennis Kraus at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City says. "This is a fascinating first step," he added.
Other experts, such as Dr. Joel Epstein at the American Board of Oral Medicine, say that this study was flawed as it only involved a small group of people and it only looked at existing cavities. So don't throw away that toothbrush just yet ...
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