According to a surprising new study, people who have more dental cavities are at lower risk of being diagnosed with head and neck cancer, compared with patients who have few or no cavities.
Dental cavities (or caries) are caused by tooth decay. This is when the bacteria present in the mouth make lactic acids that strip away minerals in the tooth by fermenting carbohydrates.
According to the researchers from the University at Buffalo, NY, previous studies have shown the bacteria that causes tooth decay is linked to an immune response, which may be protective against cancer.
For this study, published online in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, the researchers set out to determine if there is a significant link between dental cavities and Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC).
The study involved 399 patients newly diagnosed with HNSCC, and 221 participants without the cancer who were all selected from the Department of Dentistry and Maxillofacial Prosthetics at Roswell Park Cancer Industry between 1999 and 2007.
The researchers analyzed the dental history of all patients, particularly their history of dental cavities, by measuring the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth.
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