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dental health | May 30, 2024 | 6 min read

Cancer Prevention Starts with Your Smile: Feno’s Role in Oral Health

Essential Takeaways

  • Brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups aren't just good for your smile - they can reduce your risk of developing several cancers, including lung, colorectal, and oral cancer. Taking care of your oral health is a simple way to improve your overall health and potentially save your life. pen_spark
Brushing and flossing are habits every dentist will advocate for, but did you know how you care for your mouth can increase or decrease your risk of developing several cancers? Here’s what we know about oral health, cancer, how they’re related, and how you can decrease your risk.

Statistics about oral health and cancer

Before we dig into the correlations between oral health conditions and the most deadly cancers, consider these statistics that expose the link between oral health and overall health:

  • People with severe periodontitis are at 24% higher risk of developing cancer.
  • One study found as high as a 38% increase of developing cancer in people with periodontitis.
  • One study found chronic gingivitis was an important risk factor for cancer development.
  • 47.2% of Americans 30 and older have some form of gum disease.

Lung cancer and gum disease

Lung cancer is the number-one leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and the correlation between gum disease and lung cancer was found across more than seven studies between 2003 and 2019. Specifically people with periodontal disease had a 40% higher risk of lung cancer. One of those studies found a four-fold increase in lung cancer risk among people who had never even smoked, suggesting that the correlation between oral health and lung cancer is not contingent on tobacco usage.

Colorectal cancer and periodontal disease

Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer and has strong connections to oral health. Colorectal cancer has two precursors: adenomas and serrated polyps. In one study, individuals with periodontal disease had a 17% higher risk of developing one of the precursors, and individuals who had lost more than three teeth had a 20% higher risk. According to one of the researchers, “having ever been diagnosed with periodontal disease puts a person at risk of colorectal precursor lesions, some of which may eventually lead to colorectal cancer.”

Oral cancer

While potentially obvious, it’s worth noting the relationship between oral health and oral cancers. While most cancers in the mouth are related to tobacco or alcohol use, simple oral care acts — like attending twice-annual dental appointments — can help individuals catch signs of oral cancer early and intervene. Early detection and intervention can decrease the severity of the outcome and, in most cases, avert death.

Decrease your cancer risk with better oral health

Oncologists and dentists are still uncovering the connections between oral health and cancer, but across the board, medical science suggests that healthy teeth and gums are effective prevention strategies for not just cancer, but diabetes, heart disease, dementia and more. Taking just a few minutes to care for your oral health every day could add years to your life down the road.

Turn habits into rituals

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Meet the Author

Kenny Brown

We founded Feno to revolutionize dental care, understanding the vital connection between oral and overall health. Our tech driven products offer more than superb cleaning—they give you routine & insightful health monitoring to help improve your overall health.

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