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A Surprising Link to Oral Hygiene

Posted by Taylor Schachter on Feb 11 2020, 07:07 PM

A Surprising Link to Oral Hygiene

For some, colorectal health isn’t something they really want to think about, let alone discuss. It can be embarrassing to have conversations about this area of the body, even if there is a problem. But doctors caution that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our bodies, as avoiding the conversation could have dangerous effects on our lives.

Though colorectal cancers can be caused by several different factors, a new study by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore has discovered a potential link between colorectal cancer and oral health.

The study was conducted on 1,564 patients undergoing a colonoscopy and investigated a possible link between colorectal cancer and microbial dysbiosis. Microbial dysbiosis is a bacterial imbalance inside the body. In this case it refers to a microbial imbalance inside the mouth. That’s because the mouth is the gateway to our bodies. Inflammation from gum disease and poor oral health has been recently linked to a long list of other conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and now colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer, or CRC.

What the researchers found was that many of the patients who reported gum disease or gum inflammation also had colorectal cancer, while those with better oral health (visiting the dentist at least twice a year) were found to have a 52 percent lower risk of synchronous polyps, and those who visited the dentist at least once per year had a 34 percent lower risk of the condition.

Those who visited the dentist more frequently also had a higher instance of adenomas, or benign tumors, as opposed to the cancerous tumors found in those with poor oral health. In fact, the risk was reduced up to 30 percent in those with better oral health.

But how can this be tied to oral health? According to researchers, when biopsying the colorectal polyps of one patient, they found the presence of the oral bacteria Gemella sanguinis, Streptococcus parasanguinis, Streptococcus salivarius and Veillonella dispar. These bacteria develop in the mouth, and researchers in the study believe that they could indicate the beginnings of colorectal cancer.

The important takeaway from this study is that even though the findings are preliminary, it’s a good idea to stay on top of your oral health. That means brushing and flossing regularly and attending dental exams twice a year. It could literally save your life.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Abelar, please call 858-523-1400.

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