Can Cavities Protect Against Cancer?

Saturday, September 28th, 2013, 8:16 pm

Can cavities protect against head and neck cancer? Researchers at SUNY-Buffalo found that patients who had cavities in their teeth had a lower incidence of head and neck cancer. “To our knowledge, the present study suggests, for the first time, an independent association between dental caries and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” study authors said.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and the primary one that causes tooth decay is linked to an immune response, which may be protective against cancer. The researchers also noted that the findings between tooth decay and head and neck squamous cell cancers are a stark contrast to previous studies that looked at gum disease and cancer. Those studies found that having gum disease was associated with an increased risk of cancer.

The bacteria responsible for tooth decay are different from the bacteria that cause gum disease. The study authors explained,”Caries is a dental plaque-related disease. Lactic acid bacteria cause demineralization (caries) only when they are in dental plaque in immediate contact with the tooth surface. The presence of these otherwise beneficial bacteria in saliva or on mucosal surfaces may protect the host against chronic inflammatory diseases and HNSCC. We could think of dental caries as a form of ‘collateral damage’ and develop strategies to reduce its risk while preserving the beneficial effects of the lactic acid bacteria.”

As fascinating as this research is, you can’t let tooth decay go untreated. A small cavity is much easier (and less expensive) to treat than a tooth that has such deep decay that the root has become infected. Dental fillings today are sophisticated, tooth colored composites that are long lasting and, because they match your teeth, invisible. No more ugly mercury amalgam fillings to ruin your smile.

Find out more about mercury free treatment options by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

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