A Good Reason to Start Flossing ‒ It May Keep Your Mouth Cancer-Free

Quick question ‒ do you floss your teeth once per day? You’re certainly not alone if the answer is “no,” as research has indicated that nearly a third of Americans don’t floss at all. If your flossing is lacking, you might want to consider the findings of a recent study. 

Getting Answers 

Presented at the 2019 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, this report concluded that routine flossing and dental visits could reduce the risk of oral cancer. For their project, the study authors examined data from patients at the ear, nose and throat clinic at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

These patients had received oral cancer diagnoses between the years 2011 and 2014. They were required to complete a survey regarding their lifestyle choices, including their drinking/smoking habits and dental hygiene. The answers provided by the cancer patients were then contrasted against those who had visited the clinic for less serious reasons, such as dizziness or earache. 

To get a clear picture of the importance of flossing and dental checkups, the study also considered their participants’ age, gender, socioeconomic status and racial backgrounds.

Time to Buy Floss?

The study’s conclusions illustrated the importance of both flossing and dental visits. Compared to those who visited the dentist at least once per year, subjects who made less than one yearly dental visit had double the risk of developing non-HPV oral cancer. The same difference was found between those who flossed daily and participants who were less diligent about flossing. 

By itself, the report does not prove that failing to floss will increase your risk of oral cancer. However, it would be wrong to assume that there is no connection between your teeth and the health of the rest of your body. Denise Laronde, an associate professor in dentistry at the University of British Columbia, told the website Live Science that “”a lot of the times 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.” Laronde further stated that “you’re not just flossing to keep your teeth, you’re flossing to maintain your health.”

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