Health Female Adda
1 year ago
Brushing and Flossing Linked to Decreased Risk of HPV

It’s easy to forget to brush and floss before bed, but here’s new incentive to make sure you do: Poor oral health can increase your risk of getting oral human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

For the study, researchers took data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and analyzed the oral health of 3,439 people. Participants with poor oral health—which included factors such as presence of gum disease, missing teeth, and poor self-ratings of oral hygiene—had a 56 percent higher risk of developing an oral HPV infection than those with good oral health.

Why? The study didn’t find that poor oral health actually causes oral HPV—the two are just associated. However, researchers say the correlation makes sense: “Poor oral health can create inflamed gums or ulcers, which can provide openings for the HPV virus to enter the body,” says study author Christine Markham, Ph.D., associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Here’s the good news: Experts say practicing good oral hygiene—and possibly lowering your risk of getting an oral HPV infection in the process—is easy. The biggest thing is to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristle brush, which will be gentler on your gums, says Jonathan Levine, D.M.D., an American Academy of Prosthodontics-certified oral care expert. Your other daily dental habits should include flossing around and between each individual tooth and using an alcohol-free mouthwash—other kinds can dry out your mouth (not good since saliva helps fight bacteria).

photo: zimmytws/Shutterstock
More from Women's Health:
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