Changing the conversation about health

Brushing your teeth properly reduces risk of oral cancer, scientists say

Brushing your teeth thoroughly could help to prevent oral cancer, new research finds.

Scientists at the University of California found that the bacteria that builds up around teeth when regular brushing is absent was responsible for pathogens that enhanced tumour formation in mice.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Yvonne Kapila on October 1st, found that the presence of three pathogens, essentially disease-producing organisms, were significant in contributing to “highly aggressive” forms of mouth cancer.

Regular, thorough toothbrushing reduces the risk of cancer-causing bacteria being present in the mouth, new research found (Credit: PhotoMIX-company)

Other risk factors include the HPV (human papilloma virus) infection, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains one of the world’s most common cancers.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) accounts for around 90 per cent of all oral malignancies.

Researchers tested whether OSCC is promoted by bacteria affecting structures surrounding and supporting teeth.

Scientists found three types of periodontal pathogens, porphyromonas gingivalis, treponema denticola, and Fusobacterium nucleatum all enhanced OSCC cell migration, invasion, and tumor formation in mice.

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) accounts for around 90 per cent of all oral malignancies (Credit: Pixabay/movidagrafica)

However, the research also showed that these pathogens were inhibited by treatment with nisin, commonly used as a food preservative.

In their findings, the authors concluded: “Since a probiotic bacteriocin peptide, nisin, rescues this pathogen-mediated carcinogenesis, these findings could advance treatment for oral cancer and establish a novel paradigm for cancer treatment focused on antimicrobial-based therapies.’