New research suggests that people who have more plaque on their teeth and gums are more likely to die prematurely from cancer. The June 11 edition of BMJ Open findings show only an association between plaque and a raised risk of early cancer death, and not a cause-and-effect relationship.
In the study, nearly 1,400 Swedish adults were followed for 24 years. During this time, 58 of the subjects died, 35 from cancer. Specifically, people with high amounts of dental plaque were 79 percent more likely to die prematurely. That said, the absolute risk of any person with dental plaque dying early of cancer was low.
Although the study did not examine the causal connection, underlying inflammation may be the common denominator. Calling the new findings “interesting,” Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said they raise more questions than they answer.
“This study does not answer the question of whether or not dental plaque leads to cancer death,” he said. “We only know how many people died, so we don’t know if there is an increase in the incidence of cancer among people with plaque, or if, perhaps, it renders them more susceptible to treatment-associated infection.”
While insurance companies only pay for two visits, we think the growing evidence of how your oral health care relates to your global health indicates that you should have your teeth cleaned at least 3, if not 4 times per year. As long as I have been practicing, I have been ethically driven to inform you of your needs. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t take an oath of professionalism. Learn more about healthy teeth and gums at the American Dental Association. If we can be of service or answer any of your oral health questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or schedule a complementary consultations.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
 June 11, 2012, BMJ Open
 Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta
- Dental Plaque Hikes Cancer Risk, Reveals (biospace.com)
- Does More Dental Plaque Mean Higher Chances of Dying From Cancer? (news.health.com)