Oral Health & Cancer : A Thorough Approach To Oral Care

Brushing twice daily and flossing regularly are cornerstones of good dental care. Enhancing your routine with additional steps can significantly boost your oral hygiene.

Proper oral hygiene is essential, not only for dental health but also for your overall wellbeing. Research1 has linked poor oral health with an increased risk of oesophageal and stomach cancers. Moreover, keeping the mouth, teeth and gums clean becomes even more critical during and after cancer treatments. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect the lining of the mouth and saliva glands, disrupting the balance of beneficial bacteria. This can potentially result in complications like mouth sores, infections and tooth decay.

By taking proactive steps to preserve and enhance your oral health, we can significantly mitigate these risks. Here are six ways to improve your dental care regimen.

  1. Floss before you brush.

    Flossing first can loosen bacteria and bits of food caught between teeth, paving the way for more effective removal of plaque during brushing.

  2. Give attention to your tongue.

    Keeping the tongue clean is important for maintaining a healthy oral environment, as it can be a hiding place for bacteria that contribute to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Use a toothbrush or a dedicated tongue scraper to remove bacterial build-up, preventing potential gum inflammation and cavities.

  3. Get an extra layer of protection with mouthwash.

    Pairing regular brushing and flossing with the use of a fluoride mouthwash significantly reduces the occurrence of dental plaque, which — if left unchecked — can lead to more severe oral diseases. If you are suffering from a mouth infection, mouth ulcer or gum disease, consider using a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine. This type of oral rinse, prescribed by a doctor or dentist, can decrease bacteria in the mouth and reduce inflammation in the gums.

  4. What you eat matters.

    Beyond limiting sugary and acidic foods which can erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to tooth decay, certain produce can promote oral wellbeing. Crunchy, fibrous fruits such as apples and pears act as natural toothbrushes. Chewing on these foods stimulates saliva production, helping to neutralise harmful acids and keep teeth clean.

  5. Stay hydrated.

    Drinking water cleanses the mouth, flushing away food particles and diluting harmful acids to prevent tooth decay. Adequate hydration also promotes saliva production, essential for digestion and protecting enamel.

  6. Visit your dentist at least twice a year.

    While daily brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, regular visits to the dentist are crucial for comprehensive care. Aim for at least two dental check-ups annually. These visits allow for professional cleaning to remove tartar that brushing cannot reach and for thorough examinations to identify cavities. More importantly, the dentist will be able to spot any abnormalities, including early signs of oral cancer, ensuring prompt attention and intervention if needed.

Signs of a Healthy Smile


1Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2020). ‘Gum disease linked with higher risk of gastrointestinal cancers.’ Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health News. Retrieved from www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/gum-disease-gastrointestinal-cancer-risk/
POSTED IN Cancer Prevention
TAGS mouth (oral) cancer
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