How Bad Oral Hygiene can cause Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among both men and women, and poor oral hygiene can be a contributing factor.

How Bad Oral Hygiene can cause Cancer f

tobacco products can cause gum loss

Cancer is an illness that no one is exempt from, and poor hygiene can be a contributing factor.

The state of a person’s hygiene has a direct link to their risk of having the disease.

According to Senior Consultant of Surgical Oncology Dr Hitesh R Singhavi, oral cancer is one of the most common cancers among men (11% of all cancers).

He also says that it is the fifth most common cancer among women (4.3% of all cancers).

If a person’s inner cheek, teeth and gums are in poor condition, it makes them more vulnerable to mouth and throat cancers.

Poor oral hygiene can stem from brushing your teeth less than twice a day and infrequent dental visits.

As well as this, Dr Singhavi says that a person’s habits can cause oral cancer. He says:

“Tobacco chewing, areca nut, alcohol consumption, and poor oral hygiene (POH) may have contributory effects.

“Most times, we associate poor oral hygiene with dental caries, gingivitis, periodontitis (gum disease) and foul smell, but poor oral hygiene, in the long run, can cause fatal diseases including cancer.”

According to Dr Singhavi, consuming tobacco products can cause gum loss and loosening of teeth. It can also lead to the formation of pre-cancerous lesions.

Therefore, it is wise to avoid tobacco in order to maintain good oral hygiene.

The same can be said for alcohol consumption, which can lead to bleeding gums.

When poor oral hygiene is associated with alcohol, the floor of the mouth and underneath the tongue is the most common site for oral cancer.

Dr Singhavi says that poor oral hygiene makes it easier for carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer) to form. He says:

“POH aids the carcinogenic potential of other known carcinogens, like tobacco and alcohol.

“It causes easy conversion of tobacco metabolite into cancer-causing products (nitrosamines).

“POH also reacts with alcohol to formaldehyde – a class one carcinogen (products which can independently cause cancer).”

According to Dr Singhavi, studies show that maintaining good oral hygiene reduces the risk of oral cancer by 200%.

However, it is not just poor oral hygiene that can contribute to oral cancer. Dr Singhavi says:

“Chronic mucosal trauma due to sharp teeth or ill-fitting dentures can cause oral cancer.

“A study conducted by Tata Memorial Centre concluded that chronic mucosa trauma has higher chances of development of oral cancer, and it is not an uncommon finding in non-habitual patients, especially tongue cancers.”

Dr Singhavi advises that to reduce the risk of oral cancer, patients should maintain good oral hygiene by brushing their teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly.

Louise is an English and Writing graduate with a passion for travel, skiing and playing the piano. She also has a personal blog which she updates regularly. Her motto is "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Image courtesy of Reuters