Dental cavities are very common condition among UK patients.
While they certainly require treatment, they may have an unexpected positive effect on other aspects of health, according to a new study by a team of researchers at the University of Buffalo, New York.
Researchers believe that increased immunity to bacteria developed by many when fighting tooth cavities can also reduce the chances of developing head and neck cancers.
Researchers examined 399 patients with head and neck cancer and 221 people that did not have the condition.
They found that tooth decay was one-third less frequent among the first group than among respondents from the second.
It is believed that the Th1 immunity that the organism develops when attacked by mouth bacteria could suppress tumours. According to lead researcher Dr Mine Tezal, Th1 responses have been linked with decreased risk of cancer. Various treatments against cariogenic bacteria, such as vaccination, antimicrobial treatment and gene therapy, could actually be a bad move in the long run.
However, the findings from the study should not prompt people to stop taking care of their dental health.
In fact, they simply show that a change of microbial flora can result in drastic health-related events. Researchers noted that people should avoid changing the balance in the microbial environment in the mouth by overusing antimicrobial products.
However, brushing teeth and flossing are essential for maintaining a good oral and overall health, they concluded.