Posted on Jul 03, 2012, 6 a.m.
An indicator of poor oral hygiene and a potential source of dental infections, the amount of dental plaque may predict death from cancer.
Poor oral hygiene may be associated with increased risk of cancer and premature death, reports a Swedish study. In 1985, Birgitta Soder, from the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), and colleagues initiated a longitudinal study of 1,390 randomly selected, healthy Swedish adults, ages 30 to 40 years, who had no signs of periodontitis at baseline. The participants were followed with periodic checkups including smoking habits and oral health through 2009. Dental plaque measures were taken at the study start and in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2009. Over the 24-year study period, 58 patients died, including 35 deaths due to malignancies. Individuals still alive at the end of follow-up had a significantly lower dental plaque index than those who died, with statistically significant differences regarding the amount of dental plaque, gingival inflammation, and dental calculus, indicating a significantly poorer dental status in the subjects who died when compared with survivors. The study authors conclude that: “poor oral hygiene, as reflected in the amount of dental plaque, was associated with increased cancer mortality.”
Birgitta Soder, Maha Yakob, Jukka H Meurman, Leif C Andersson, Per-Osten Soder. “The association of dental plaque with cancer mortality in Sweden. A longitudinal study.” BMJ Open 2012;2:3 e001083.