Dental health has long been known for its ability to predict various health problems, which you can read about in What Do Your Teeth Say About Your Health? However, what’s less often discussed is the connection between dental health and cancer. While there’s little in the way of studies presenting both sides of the case, there’s certainly some evidence pointing a finger. From head and neck cancer to cancer-causing HPV, it’s time you and your dentist take a closer look.

Cavities and Head and Neck Cancer

Cavities are telling when it comes to cancer, but not in the way you might think. According to a report on head and neck cancer, published on September 12, 2013 in the JAMA Otolaryngology, having cavities means you have a lower risk of head and neck cancer.

dental health and cancer“This was an unexpected finding since dental cavities have been considered a sign of poor oral health along with periodontal disease, and we had previously observed an increased risk of head and neck cancers among subjects with periodontal disease,” said Dr. Mine Tezal, a lead researcher on the study.

In the study, 399 people with head and neck cancer were compared to 221 similar people who were healthy and cancer-free. The people with the most cavities were in the healthy group, and had a 32% lower risk of developing these two cancers; outside factors such as smoking, sex and alcohol use were taken into account.

The link? Cavities produce lactic acid, which has been found to protect against cancer cells. However, not all dental professionals believe this study provides definitive cause and effect, with more studies needed to make a legitimate case for the connection.

The bottom line: don’t start eating sweets and stop brushing your teeth. The key here is to maintain normal microbial ecology: brush your teeth, floss and eat healthy.

Gum Disease and Mouth Cancer

With over 3,000 participants between the ages of 30 and 69, researchers from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, found a connection between gum disease and mouth cancer, as reported by There’s a single link between these two: Oral HPV, which is closely related to mouth cancer.

The research team looked at responses from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey relating to dental health. The participants’ self-assessment of overall dental health and presence of gum disease were among the details extracted for the use of the study.

The results? The people with gum disease had a 51% higher risk of developing oral HPV, and those with generally poor dental health had a 28% increase in their risk. Sores in the mouth or inflamed gums may become a portal for HPV, allowing it into the body, whereas, when healthy mouths come into contact with this cancer-causing disease, it’s not allowed inside, which is when it’s most likely to trigger the infection.

As one of the first studies on this connection, more research is needed to make a definitive decision on whether the link is legitimate. The connection between root canals and health, however, has been researched and analyzed for nearly a century.

Root Canals and Breast Cancer

While leaving a dead tooth in your mouth isn’t recommended, the current method for performing root canals isn’t necessarily recommended, either. This was noted by Westin Price, a renowned dentist in the 20th century, and has since been tested and proven true.

Westin found that root canals lead to heart disease, Lupus and more.  A recent 5-year study of 300 breast cancer patients by Dr. Robert Jones took this information further. Roberts found that nearly 93% of the women had root canals, and in the majority of cases, the tumor was found on the same side of the body as the root canal was performed.

The cause, in this case, for breast cancer is the same as what Westin found: bad bacteria. When the root tooth has been hollowed, it’s then sealed with gutta-percha, a substance that cuts the blood supply from the tooth. When this is in place, it traps bacteria inside the miles of tubules that connect down into your jaw. Here, as opposed to in and around your mouth, the bacteria are safe from antibiotics and your body’s natural defenses against disease.

“No amount of sterilization has been found effective in reaching these tubules-and just about every single root-canaled too has been found colonized by these bacteria,” according to Yet, the nearly every dentist, as well as the American Dental Association, refuses to agree with such findings and information. Live Free Natural speculates this is because a root canal is the most expensive dental procure.

But don’t go leaving dead teeth in your mouth just yet. If you need a root canal, talk to your dentist about removing the periodontal ligaments, which are what provide a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re having trouble convincing your current dental professional, see a biological dentist, who is specifically trained in to do such extractions properly.

While most of the information linking dental health and cancer is new, and unsupported by other research, it’s a start. The lesson here is to make dental health a priority, by brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods and seeing your local dentist every 6 months, which is recommended. As with any other aspect of your health, prevention is always the best method, especially when the answers are still unknown.

Have you experienced the correlation between your dental health and cancer? Please, do share!

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